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Current Topic: Economics

Ciena Sheds One-Fifth of Workforce
Topic: Economics 7:49 am EST, Mar 27, 2002

Ciena Corp. yesterday laid off an additional 650 people, or 22 percent of its workforce, because of dramatically slower sales in the fiber-optics sector. ... Even as the rest of the economy shows signs of recovery, the telecommunications sector remains in shambles. ... Spending is down about 40 percent ... Ciena's main problem ... is its lack of focus. ... "The industry has gone through a precipitous decline that has taken everybody by surprise."

Ciena Sheds One-Fifth of Workforce

Foreseeing A New Wave Of Telecoms
Topic: Economics 7:47 am EST, Mar 27, 2002

Rick Hanna [executive positions at MCI, AT&T, Sprint, MFS, Teligent and Cidera] is sensing a telecom thaw. ... [He] took off the past year to try to figure out why his industry fell apart ... The next round will be telecom companies ... that don't have the baggage of debt; ... regional players. ...

"Look at all the fiber in the ground. Look at all the assets out there. You can get into the business for a fraction of the cost a few years ago." ...

"Vulture capital" firms ... telecom refugees often discuss what went wrong in the "CLEC" market ... firms were spending quickly to "get big fast" ... few if any of those CLECs will come back ... He does have hope for less ambitious companies ...

"The key to survival is who can run these assets most efficiently." In another year, we may see which companies have figured that out.

Foreseeing A New Wave Of Telecoms

Verizon Shifts Debt to Longer Terms
Topic: Economics 6:07 am EST, Mar 26, 2002

Verizon yesterday sold $1.5 billion of bonds with maturities as long as 30 years. Credit-rating companies [said] the company relied too much on short-term debt. ... The company is borrowing to reduce $12.8 billion in debt maturing in nine months or less.

Who in the world is buying these notes? What are the investors thinking? Well, it's good news for Verizon, anyway.

Verizon Shifts Debt to Longer Terms

AOL Time Warner Has Charge of $54 Billion
Topic: Economics 6:03 am EST, Mar 26, 2002

AOL Time Warner Inc. plans to take a $54 billion charge, believed to be the largest in corporate history, reflecting the declining value of AOL's purchase of Time Warner last year, according to the company's public filings made yesterday. ... a reflection of the Internet bubble ... For Q1, flat revenue and EBITDA versus the year-ago period. Wall Street dissmisses charge as "less than a nonevent." ... executives do not expect a recovery this year. ... The $54 billion charge, while large, is hardly the company's biggest headache.

AOL Time Warner Has Charge of $54 Billion

Yipes files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
Topic: Economics 5:58 am EST, Mar 26, 2002

Yipes Communications, a start-up that offers cheap, fast Internet service to businesses, filed for bankruptcy protection on Friday. ... The start-up service provider competes against traditional phone companies, such as AT&T and Verizon Communications, by offering businesses more than twice the Internet speeds at half the cost. ... Friday's bankruptcy filing is yet another example of the difficulties start-up Internet service providers have had against bigger rivals. ... Yipes uses Ethernet networking technology to connect businesses and service providers to high-speed optical networks in metropolitan areas.

In case you were under the impression that there exists a viable business model for telecom services ... The incumbents are drowning in debt, while the startups can't attract enough customers (no one can) to achieve profitability.

Yipes files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

2 Asian Companies Reach Deal to Acquire Global Crossing
Topic: Economics 5:54 am EST, Mar 26, 2002

The creditors of Global Crossing have reached a deal with two Asian companies [Hutchison Whampoa of Hong Kong and Singapore Technologies Telemedia Ltd.] interested in acquiring its assets, with the accord expected to open the way for more bidders. ... Global Crossing could now be auctioned by early July. The deal makes a liquidation of Global Crossing's assets more remote and eases concern over that possibility among employees and some creditors.

The future of IP (Internet Protocol) meets the future of IP (Intellectual Property):

"Welcome to the New Internet. You must immediately install this web filtering software and register with the Department of Censorship Services. Pick up your free 'Attack of the Clones' DivX at the next window. Thank you, drive through."

2 Asian Companies Reach Deal to Acquire Global Crossing

Debt concerns weigh on industry
Topic: Economics 8:50 am EST, Mar 25, 2002

Weakness among phone stocks led telecoms mostly lower. Verizon and Qwest slipped on concerns about debt.

Moody's said Verizon ought to [reduce] its use of short-term debt ... S&P cut its rating on the debt of KPNQwest, the European affiliate of Qwest ... phone stocks declined ... Nortel dropped 6.3 percent ... the company is in talks with Motorola to combine their wireless-network divisions ... Nortel may have to shed another 10,000 jobs because of anemic growth ... ... [Analysts] cutting revenue outlook for Nortel due to the "continued decline in the spending outlook for large wireline and wireless operators globally" ... the hopes for a rebound in the second half have "clearly fizzled out." ... Nextel dropped 5.4 percent .... Elsewhere, wireless stocks fell.

Just another day in the life of the sagging telecom industry ...

Debt concerns weigh on industry

Verizon Capital Spending to Shrink
Topic: Economics 8:44 am EST, Mar 25, 2002

"Verizon Communications, the No. 1 U.S. local telephone company, said Wednesday it expects to cut capital spending to about $15 billion to $16 billion this year from $17.4 billion last year. ... Telecommunications carriers have been cutting back on capital spending as their industry has been hurt by lower spending by business customers and consumers in the weak economy, as well as competition and price wars. ... "There is substantial competition in the wireless telecommunications industry."

On that last point: The latest issue of The Net Economy has a good cover story/feature on the mounting troubles in the wireless telecom industry. Apparently, they're starting to learn that wireless won't soon become a profit center, even as the wireline telecom business dies out.

Verizon Capital Spending to Shrink

Moody's cuts Lucent ratings
Topic: Economics 8:39 am EST, Mar 25, 2002

Moody's Investors Service cut its ratings for Lucent Technologies Inc. two notches Friday, saying the telecommunications equipment provider will suffer a longer and deeper downturn in demand for its products than Moody's expected, delaying its return to profitability. Its rating outlook is negative. Downgrades ordinarily raise borrowing costs, and Moody's actions affect about $7.8 billion of debt. ... Lucent is unlikely to achieve positive cash flow from operations "in the near future." ... while Lucent now complies with financial covenants in its bank agreements, weaker operating performance "will likely put pressure on the prospective compliance."

Moody's cuts Lucent ratings

Telecom, Tangled in Its Own Web
Topic: Economics 9:37 am EST, Mar 24, 2002

Thanks to a star-quality cast, the Enron wreck has been riveting theater. ... Yet while all eyes remain on Enron, a tragedy of identical plot but with far more damaging implications has been playing out on another stage. Unlike Enron's saga, this drama is not about a single, rogue company operating to enrich its executives. This tale is about an entire industry -- telecommunications -- that rose to a value of $2 trillion based on dubious promises by Wall Street and company executives of an explosive growth in demand for telecommunications services. When that demand failed to materialize, the companies were left with mountains of debt and little revenue.

... It is unclear whether many of these interlocking relationships served any economic purpose. ... There is no doubt that the mess is large ... some $1.4 trillion in investor wealth has evaporated ... 400,000 jobs in the telecommunications sector have vanished ... 61,000 jobs in the first two months of 2002 ...

"The underpinnings of the emerging telecom bubble were a phenomenal miscalculation. At the time it seemed like a logical progression of history: cellular, the Internet, the new thing. It was bold, it was risky, it was expensive. And it was wrong."

Telecom, Tangled in Its Own Web

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