Lucent Elevates Finance Exec

The networker stays close to home in finding a new CFO.
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Lucent (LU) didn't have to go far to find its new finance chief.

Former controller John Kritzmacher was named CFO Tuesday, filling the position Frank D'Amelio left last month to take the company's No. 2 job.

Observers note that the Murray Hill, N.J., telecom-equipment maker has once again picked someone within its own ranks to fill an executive position. But fans cheered the promotion for the well-regarded D'Amelio, who helped soothe impatient analysts over the years with his "rhythm of the numbers" financial discussions.

Kritzmacher served as D'Amelio's finance deputy since 2001, and has worked in the Bell Labs/Lucent organization for 24 years.

"John's proven talent and leadership were instrumental in helping the company through a difficult period in our history and returning us to profitability," said CEO Pat Russo, in a press release Tuesday.

But while Kritzmacher is lauded for contributing to the company's financial stability, critics say Lucent needs to address a far bigger problem: its unclear path to growth.

In fact, after years of cost cuts and recent manufacturing consolidations, Lucent seemed ready to turn bigger profits out of its smaller revenue stream. But that strategy didn't exactly go according to plan in the most recent quarter, when Lucent reported a stunning 16% sales shortfall.

Investors compare Lucent's lackluster performance to outfits like

Motorola

(MOT)

, which has rebounded as a wireless powerhouse in the past two years. Meanwhile, archrival

Nortel

(NT)

is in the midst of a dramatic shakeup as CEO and former Motorola hard-charger Mike Zafirovski remakes the networking-equipment giant.

And then there's computer-networking giant

Cisco's

(CSCO) - Get Report

bold redirection. Mired in its own sales rut, Cisco placed a bold bet on cable gear with the $5.3 billion purchase of

Scientific-Atlanta

(SFA)

.

Lucent shares were down 3 cents to $2.79 in early trading Tuesday.