Level 3's Sales Struggles Continue

Updates stock information

BROOMFIELD, Colo. ( TheStreet -- Level 3 ( LVLT) missed analysts' revenue estimates in its second-quarter results as the communications specialist continues to wrestle with a tough economy.

The money-losing telco wholesaler posted revenue of $942 million, down from $1.09 billion in the same period last year and below Wall Street's estimate of $959.59 million.

Level 3's loss also widened to a net loss of 8 cents a share on net income of $134 million, compared to a net loss of 3 cents a share and a loss of $42 million in the year-ago quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected a loss of 9 cents a share.

"The economy continued to be challenging in the second quarter for wireline service providers," said James Crowe, Level 3 CEO, in a statement released Thursday before market open. "As expected, sequential revenue pressure continued in the second quarter, although at a significantly moderated rate."

The CEO noted that although Level 3 saw improvement in sales and customer churn, these were not as much as expected.

"We continue to manage our costs aggressively, and for the fifth consecutive quarter, we were able to reduce our operating expenses," he added. "Year over year, we improved both our Gross Margin and Adjusted EBITDA Margin percentages."

The Colorado firm, however, continues to be saddled with significant debt. Excluding capital leases and commercial mortgages, the company has $55 million of principal amount of debt due in 2009, $168 million in 2010, $461 million in 2011 and $301 million in 2012.

At the end of the second quarter, Level 3 had cash and cash equivalents of around $630 million.

Sunit Patel, the Level 3 CFO, said that a number of the firm's large service provider and enterprise customers are still managing their costs aggressively and deferring network upgrades. "More broadly, we have not yet seen a return to the historical levels of purchases necessary to accommodate underlying, longer term growth in demand," he said, in a statement.

Level 3, which competes with Verizon ( VZ) , AT&T ( T) and Qwest ( Q), was recently rumored to be forging a network deal with Sprint ( S), combining so-called long-haul network assets in a separate venture.

Level 3 shares dipped 22 cents, or 13.6% , to $1.40 in Thursday trading.

Reported by James Rogers in New York

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