updated 12/11/2003 12:53:52 PM ET 2003-12-11T17:53:52

SBC Communications Inc., the nation's second-largest telecommunications company, Tuesday said it will cut 3,000 to 4,000 jobs before the end of the year.

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The cuts, representing about 1.7 percent to 2.3 percent of its work force, are part of a continuing plan to cut staff and costs through employee buyouts and attrition, the company said.

SBC didn't specify in which division or at which locations the job cuts will come. The San Antonio-based company employs about 175,980 people.

Earlier this year, the former Baby Bell expanded its sales force by 1,000 workers.

Costs associated with the job cuts are expected to lower fourth-quarter earnings by up to $150 million, or 3 cents a share, before taxes.

Analysts had expected SBC, a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, to post fourth-quarter earnings, excluding items, of 34 cents a share, down from 62 cents a year ago.

The company announced the cuts after Chief Financial Officer Randall Stephenson addressed a Lehman Brothers conference in New York.

In his presentation, Stephenson said SBC sees growth potential in its ability to bundle communications products and services. The company has sought out more subscribers for key growth products, such as digital subscriber lines.

SBC also is aiming for strong growth with Cingular Wireless, of which SBC owns 60 percent.

BellSouth Corp. owns the remainder of the wireless carrier.

Stephenson also said productivity enhancements already under way are expected to save the company $1.3 billion a year in expense and capital costs by 2006.

(Dow Jones/AP)

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