Lucent's Ascent

Will it be the phone-gear colossus for the Internet era?

Whether it's bushels of rabbits' feet or just good management, Lucent Technologies Inc. has led a charmed life. Since it was spun off from AT&T in 1996, it has been on a dizzying three-year streak, acting more like a Silicon Valley startup than a 123-year-old maker of phone equipment. Since Lucent went public, its shares soared from 13 1/2 to a high of 120 on Jan. 8. Meanwhile, the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index hasn't even doubled. Last year alone, Lucent nearly tripled shareholders' money, compared with a 29% return for the S&P 500. Says Mark Herskovitz, co-manager of the Dreyfus Technology Growth Fund, one of Lucent's largest shareholders: "The stock has been just a monster."

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