TRENTON, N.J. -- Lucent Technologies stock plunged as much as 30 percent to an all-time low Wednesday before the telecommunications giant strongly denied rumors it plans to file for bankruptcy reorganization.
''Chapter 11 rumors are absolutely false,'' said Bill Price, director of corporate media relations at the Murray Hill-based company. ''They are ridiculous and pushing people into a panic that does not exist.''
The market rumors helped send Lucent's already battered stock plummeting, but it recovered somewhat after the denial. Lucent closed down $1.07, or 14 percent, at $6.78 in heavy trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
That is less than 10 percent of Lucent's $84 high in December 1999.
Telecommunications equipment analyst Steve Levy of Lehman Brothers said he does not see bankruptcy on the horizon.
In a statement, Lucent chief financial officer Deborah Hopkins called the rumors ''baseless and irresponsible.''
''We are already seeing positive impacts from our comprehensive restructuring program,'' Hopkins said. ''Our $6.5 billion lines of credit provide the financial resources and the financial flexibility to execute our turnaround plan.''
Lucent's early drop to $5.50 a share briefly pushed the stock to its lowest level since the company's spinoff from AT&T Corp. in 1996.
The latest downturn for the stock, which is among the most widely held in the country and had been long a favorite of analysts, follows a string of strategic missteps and profit disappointments that led to the ouster of Lucent's chief executive and a major restructuring.
In January, Lucent announced plans to eliminate about 10,000 jobs worldwide through layoffs and attrition, and to drop 6,000 others from its payroll by selling operations at two plants.
''We have the financial flexibility to execute our turn-around,'' Price said. ''Nothing has changed.''
Lucent plans to spin off its 16,500-employee Agere network component business by the end of the summer.
The spinoff, layoffs and attrition are expected to leave the company with a total of about 90,500 employees.
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