MCI coming-out party's sad refrain

The Leckey File

Your Money

May 23, 2004|By Andrew Leckey | Andrew Leckey,Tribune Media Services

Order party poppers. Bake a cake. Let's plan a coming-out party for MCI, formerly known as WorldCom, which will relist its stock on the Nasdaq stock market in coming weeks.

No napkins, please. They remind everyone of that "feel good" story about Mississippi entrepreneur Bernie Ebbers writing his plan to buy the company on a restaurant napkin a few years back.

It became a "feel bad" story: the company in bankruptcy from $41 billion in debt and an $11 billion accounting fraud, leaving shareholders in the lurch and the ousted Ebbers heading to court. The firm's first financial report since emerging from Chapter 11 in April included a $388 million loss and, tragically, 7,500 more job cuts.

MCI is better-armed for long-distance wars thanks to its financial cleansing, which makes competitors angry. Yet that once-vibrant market is in decline, and MCI top brass predict a 12 percent drop in revenue this year.

Could all this be retribution for the annoying calls the company made to our homes at dinnertime over the years?

Enjoy the cake. The stock may be bitter.

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