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With his company's stock down some 74% since March,

Level 3 Communications


CEO James Crowe tried to reassure investors in an open letter, released Tuesday.

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The communications networker hit $132.25 on March 10, nailing down a record high and a peak that it has not since come close to seeing. Monday, the company closed at $35. Investors have grown skittish about the falling stock price despite the fact Level 3 released quarterly earnings on Oct. 18 that were 22 cents better than expectations. However, the report left major revenue questions unanswered.

"I assure you that we are not happy about current stock performance," Crowe wrote, addressing the biggest concern first, before tackling a far stickier spending situation.

Investors are concerned the company said capital spending increased to $6.3 billion in fiscal 2000, but did not increase 2001 revenue projections. In essence, investors are concerned, given the volatile nature of the telecommunications industry, that the amount of money spent by Level 3 is more than the amount coming in. So what's the deal?

"My answer is that we remain confident in our ability to earn a superior return on our invested capital," Crowe wrote. "The reason we have not updated 2001 revenue projections is not concern over 2001 performance, it is our longstanding commitment to provide the best, most thoughtful guidance we can."