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remains "very confident" about its previous fourth-quarter and 2001 financial projections, even as company has been suffering through rumors that it is scrambling to close deals in order to meet revenue and profit forecasts before the quarter ends on Dec. 31.

This morning, in press release that was virtually identical to a statement the company issued on Nov. 1, Nortel reiterated its previous forecasts, saying it expects fourth-quarter earnings of 26 cents a share, in line with

First Call/Thomson Financial

analysts' estimates, compared with 22 cents in the same period a year ago. The company still expects fourth-quarter revenue of $8.5 billion to $8.8 billion. Analysts have called for revenue of $8.65 billion, compared with $6.99 billion in last year's fourth quarter.

For the first quarter of 2001, the supplier of fiber-optic telecom network equipment continues to expect earnings of 16 cents a share, up from 12 cents a share last year, with revenue for the quarter of $8.1 billion to $8.3 billion. Revenue totaled $6.3 billion in the year-ago period. Analysts have forecast first-quarter revenue of $8.2 billion. For 2001, the company expects revenue and earnings per share growth of 30% to 35%.

Shares of Nortel were lately up $2.19, or 6%, to $38.63 in trading on the

New York Stock Exchange

. The 52-week high is $89.