Lucent misses quarterly mark

Just hours after the company's board fired its top officer, Lucent Technologies released its fourth quarter earnings results and said it was disappointed with them.

Lucent said that pro forma revenue from continuing operations increased 14.6 per cent to $US9.4 billion for the fourth quarter, ending September 30. This compares to $8.2 billion for the same quarter last year.

Pro forma earnings for the quarter, meanwhile, were 18 cents a share, or $600 million, down from 24 cents a share or $768 million the year before.

The results are in line with a warning issued by Lucent on October 10, when the company said its earnings would be lower than expected for the quarter.

Lucent's "as reported" results for the quarter, which include one-time charges and other items, were a net loss of $225 million or 7 cents a share, compared to net income of $947 million or 29 cents per share for the same time last year, the company said.

For the full year, revenue rose 12. 7 per cent to $34.5 billion compared to $30.6 billion a year ago. After including certain one-time items and amortisation of goodwill and acquired technology, Lucent reported net income of $1.5 billion or 44 cents per share compared with net income of $4.8 billion or $1.49 a share for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1999.

Newly installed interim Lucent chairman and CEO Henry Schacht in a statement said the quarterly results were disappointing and that fiscal 2001 would be viewed as a transition and rebuilding year for the company. In March, Schacht was named chairman of Lucent's spin-off company Avaya.

Three factors negatively impacted the company's performance during the quarter, said Deborah Hopkins, Lucent's chief financial officer, in a statement. The company saw lower-than-expected revenue and gross margins in optical business due primarily to being late to market with the OC-192 networking product that follows the standard for Synchronous Optical Network (SONET). Lucent also experienced lower-than-expected revenue and margins from switching products. Specific credit concerns also led the company to increase reserves for bad debt related to trade receivables.

Earlier in the day, Lucent announced it had ousted Rich McGinn as chairman and CEO of the company. The company said it needed to change its leadership after five quarters of not meeting its earnings forecasts. Schacht will now take over and assist with the search for a new chief executive for Lucent.

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