SBC Telecommunications' financial performance of late hasn't been much to write home about. For the third quarter, it just reported flat earnings of $1.2 billion on revenue of $10.3 billion, up a scant 0.3% over the same period last year. But given the onslaught of competitors eating away like pigeons at SBC's (SBC
) bread-and-butter landline business, scant growth is better than the alternative. "Is [our] revenue growth great? No -- it's terrible," says CEO Edward Whitacre, who adds, "but it's a lot better than losing."
The truth is, Whitacre hates losing. He has always been primarily concerned with spurring the company to further growth, creating "scale and scope," as he likes to say, and generating market value. First, he bought Pacific Telesis and Ameritech in the late 1990s, and then AT&T Wireless last year (see BW Online, 8/31/05, "So Long AT&T? Not So Fast").