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SBC Watches 3Q Net Income Fall 15%

Execs blame losses to rivals and stagnant demand.

SBC Communications Inc., the nation's second-largest local phone company, Thursday posted a 14.6% drop in third-quarter net income as revenue declined. Execs blame losses to rivals and stagnant demand.

SBC's net income for the quarter ended Sept. 30 fell to $1.8 billion, or 53 cents per share, down from $2.1 billion, or 61 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding special items, including charges related to layoffs, earnings were $1.7 billion, down from $2 billion a year earlier.

Local phone companies have been battered by customers' shift to wireless phones and E-mail, reducing the number of access lines in service. SBC's lines fell 4.3%. SBC and the other regional Bell companies have faced growing competition as local and long-distance carriers invade one another's markets.

SBC's revenue, including that from its Cingular Wireless joint venture with BellSouth Corp., fell to $12.8 billion, down 5.5% from $13.5 billion a year ago. Excluding Cingular, revenue was down 6.9%, to $10.6 billion. Operating expenses fell 1%, to $8.4 billion.

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