Level 3 Communication's


third-quarter loss widened sequentially and its revenue missed estimates, sending the stock lower Wednesday morning.

The network operator lost $171 million, or 25 cents a share, in the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with a loss of $63 million, or 9 cents a share, in the second quarter. The previous quarter had a gain of $147 million from the termination of a vendor contract.

Revenue was $840 million in the third quarter, comprising higher-than-expected communication revenue of $423 million and information services revenue of $392 million. Information services revenue fell from the second quarter because of "normal seasonality," the company said.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were forecasting a loss of 28 cents a share on revenue of $864.3 million.

For all of 2004, Level 3 now expects communication revenue to fall by a percentage in the low-single digits, compared with its previous forecast for a decline in the high-single digits.

On Instinet, the stock was recently down 24 cents, or 6.1%, to $3.69.