Novell posts positive earnings

Novell last month reported its financials for its fourth fiscal quarter, as well as for fiscal year 2002 and the news was generally good.

Once again, NetWare contributed more to revenue than anything else in the company - 30 per cent of the total revenue for the company with US$92 million. Consulting, by contrast, contributed only US$75 million while software other than NetWare (GroupWise, eDirectory, NetMail, iFolder Professional, etc.,) brought in US$132 million.

While the company did report a net loss of 68 cents/share for the year this was attributed to fixed costs for restructuring, integration and impairment charges taken during the year. Without these one-time charges, earnings would be 12 cents/share. That's not bad for a company undergoing major changes including new management throughout the organization, changes in marketing and sales direction as well as a year with few new product introductions.

The outlook for the near term is good, and the outlook for the long term is far better than might have been predicted a year ago. For NetWare, in particular, it's a lot better than I predicted a year ago when I suggested that I wouldn't be surprised if the company was acquired before 2002. Once again, though, NetWare proves that quality can sell even in the face of little or no marketing.

And I'll hasten to add that the new year should see a major increase (well, anything would be, wouldn't it?) in marketing for the entire Novell line. We'll withhold judgment, though, until we actually see the marketing program. Let's hope Novell doesn't overlook its channel partners - the retailers, systems integrators and independent consultants who have been at the forefront of the fight to keep the NetWare brand viable. These guys and girls deserve a strong helping hand from the honchos in Boston and the product managers in Provo.

Microsoft is due to launch a new version of Windows servers (tentatively called "Microsoft Windows .Net Server 2003" - isn't "NetWare" a whole lot easier to say?) and, paradoxically, I think that will help NetWare sales. All of the marketing Microsoft does will serve to focus enterprise execs on the needs of the network - that'll be your cue to push for NetWare, eDirectory and other Novell products - don't overlook BorderManager, ZENworks and NetMail. Hopefully the new marketing scheduled to roll out will help, rather than hinder, your effort.

All in all, Novell's results were about as good as could be expected in a down economy. Next year should show a decided improvement.

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