Level 3 losses widen further in Q4, shares plummet

Level 3 may be confident that its carrier and large enterprise customers are going to start spending money this year, but right now that's of little consolation given that the wholesaler's Q4 losses once again outdid what it saw in Q3 09.

The hits just kept coming in Q4 as Level 3 reported that it lost $182 million during the three months ending Dec. 31. In contrast, Level 3 reported $44 million profit in Q4 08. Making matters worse, Level 3's revenue declined 12 percent to $921 million. Not surprisingly, the Street punished Level 3 sending its shares down 10.14 percent to $1.24 by 12:38 ET yesterday.

Despite the steep losses, a factor it attributed to the customers scaling back to deal with the current economic crisis, Level 3's government and enterprise divisions showed some signs of life. And while company CEO James Crowe acknowledges that there's a lack of clarity around when the economy will rebound, he added that "we do see evidence that customers are returning to more historically normal levels of purchases."

To be prepared for potential customer investments, Level 3 will beef up its sales force by up to 25 percent and increase spending on its network this year.

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