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The Ratings Game: Lumen’s stock slides toward 37-year low amid doubts company can ‘sharply diverge from its history’

Shares of Lumen Technologies Inc. were extending their declines Tuesday, off 5.2% and on track for their lowest close in 37 years.

Even an upgrade from Raymond James analyst Frank Louthan IV failed to convey much optimism for the beaten-down telecommunications name, which has shed 85% of its value over the past 12 months. Changing hands at $1.81 in Tuesday’s session, Lumen’s LUMN, -4.19% stock is on pace to log its lowest close since it traded at that level on Feb. 27, 1986, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

See also: Lumen Technologies’ stock sinks after full-year revenue outlook was below expectations

Lumen shares “can, and in the short term likely will, decline further (maybe even by significant percentages), but the risk/reward of being at Underperform is low at this point; as such, we would rather be on the sidelines,” Louthan wrote as he lifted his rating on the name to market perform. “Macro factors are more likely to drive the stock than fundamental performance from here, in our view.”

Louthan’s upgrade came after Lumen held a Monday investor-day presentation that highlighted the company’s attempts to deal with a business that is largely in decline.

“Management outlined a significant number of changes they are implementing to simplify the business, make it easier to interact with customers, and drive broader, more complex solution-based sales,” he wrote. “The question here is not what these products are or how they are different, but one of execution and timing of tangible results.”

See also: AT&T’s stock nabs a lukewarm upgrade

SVB MoffettNathanson analyst Nick Del Deo described Lumen’s management as “earnest, genuine, committed, and enthusiastic” as they outlined multiyear financial projections at Monday’s event.

“To join them, one must believe that Lumen’s results can sharply diverge from its history and the performance of the market in which it operates,” he wrote in a note to clients. “We don’t doubt that many of the steps the company is taking can improve its results. But we’ve also been students of the telecom market for long

enough to observe that companies in this space rarely meet their longer-term projections.”

In his experience, “market structure has historically been the greatest single determinant of results in this space,” and right now, “the structure of the business wireline market is quite poor.”

Del Deo has an underperform rating on Lumen shares.

Of the 14 analysts tracked by FactSet who cover Lumen’s stock, two have buy ratings, six have neutral ratings and six have sell ratings, and the company was hard-pressed to find true believers after Monday’s presentation.

“[Lumen’s] long-term financial targets are generally higher than our estimates, which are unchanged, as we await further execution proof points against its key strategic priorities,” Goldman Sachs analyst Brett Feldman wrote in reiterating a neutral rating.

Gregory Williams of TD Cowen, who rates the stock at market perform, said that Lumen’s “execution toward its ‘show me’ 2025 financial stability target is paramount to solve its 2027 debt walls.”

See more: Lumen debt exchange shows beaten-down company plans to ‘fight it out’ amid investor doubts

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