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8x8 beats Street but 4Q sales plummet

Specialty chipmaker 8x8 Inc. (Nasdaq: EGHT) skipped past analysts' estimates in its fourth quarter Thursday despite a horrendous sales decline from the year-ago quarter. 8x8 shares closed up 5/16 to 4 9/16.

The Santa Clara, Calif. company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $2.7 million, or 18 cents a share, on sales of $5.5 million.

First Call consensus expected it to lose 25 cents a share in the quarter.

Despite the better-than-expected results, 8x8 still watched its sales plummet 55 percent versus the year-ago quarter when it made $82,000, or 1 cent a share, on sales of $12.1 million.

Including a one-time charge of $5.7 million related to the discontinuation of its consumer videophone business, 8x8 lost $8.4 million, or 55 cents a share, in the quarter.

For the year, it lost $13.5 million, or 90 cents a share, on sales of $31.7 million, a far cry from fiscal 1998 when it earned $3.7 million, or 25 cents a share, on sales of $49.8 million.

"Turning our focus to the IP telephony market will enable us to compete in one of the hottest segments of the telecommunications market," said Paul Voois in a prepared release. "We made good progress this quarter in building our broadband telephony business."

Its shares fell from a 52-week high of 14 1/2 in December to a low of 1 3/4 in August.

Both analysts following the stock maintain a "hold" recommendation.

First Call consensus expects 8x8 to lose 22 cents a share in its first quarter and 66 cents a share in fiscal 2000.

8x8 manufactures integrated video communication semiconductors and associated software to original equipment manufacturers