On Tuesday, Lucent Technologies tried to assure investors that it really does have a plan B now that it's scrapped a deal to sell the company to France's Alcatel for not a single Franc premium.
In a meeting with analysts in Atlanta Henry Schacht, CEO of Lucent, said its sales should actually show some modest growth in the current quarter. More importantly, Lucent said it has, "multiple bidders for its optical fiber business." A sale it needs to happen and happen soon.
The encouraging words were enough to add 8% to Lucent's stock Tuesday and inspire the overall upbeat feeling on the street. But Lucent is still up against the clock, in search of $2 billion dollars in cold hard cash by the end of September.
Lucent's fiber optics unit seemed like an easy source of that cash. But as the company has shopped the unit around the globe, the price has been plunging from as much as $6-8 billion earlier this year to perhaps as little as $4 billion now.
The debt time bomb is one of the main reasons Lucent's stock chart looks like a ski slope to nowhere, down 86% since last July.
The fact that Lucent management was willing to sell out at these distressed prices has a lot of bears wondering whether the guys in the corner office aren't as depressed as the stock.
Shacht threw cold water on speculation that he might try to re-ignite the deal with Alcatel. But having gone to the altar once already, Wall Street is betting we'll see another Lucent wedding — albeit a shotgun wedding — within the next year.