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Accounting Changes Didn't Buoy SBC's Bottom Line

BusinessWeek got it wrong when it included SBC Communications Inc. (SBC) in "Pumped-up pension plays? (Finance, Oct. 25) about companies that are allegedly "pumping up" their earnings by manipulating retiree cost and investment-return forecasts. Just the opposite happened at SBC: Changes in pension accounting assumptions last year hurt rather than helped our bottom line, taking a $693 million bite out of 2003 net earnings. Our conservative accounting approach is reasonable and appropriate.

Richard G. Lindner

Chief Financial Officer

SBC Communications Inc.

San Antonio

Editor's note: SBC was cited as an example of how small changes in pension accounting assumptions can dramatically affect reported earnings. The story pointed out that in SBC's case, the adjustments actually lowered earnings in 2003. We did not intend to imply that the company's earnings were "pumped up" or being questioned by the SEC.

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