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Lucent tops lower 4Q estimates

Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) topped lowered analyst expectations by a penny in the fourth quarter.

After market close Monday, the communications equipment maker reported a fiscal fourth quarter profit of $600 million, or 18 cents per share from continuing operations, excluding special charges. First Call's survey of 24 analyst called for a profit of 17 cents per share.

That consensus estimate was reduced following a warning from Lucent in July.

Shares of Lucent rose to 23.0625 in afterhours activity on the Island electronic communications network, following the quarterly report. Lucent stock closed Monday's regular trading at 22.0625, down 0.5625 for the session.

Including amortization and one-time charges, Lucent lost $225 million, or 7 cents per share.

Fourth quarter revenue from ongoing businesses increased 14.6 percent year-over-year to $9.4 billion. Particularly strong were Lucent's Internet infrastructure, services and microelectronics businesses. Lucent has said before that it will spin off the microelectronics unit, which makes network components and chips.

The fourth quarter report came after a warning earlier in the day from Lucent, which slashed its first quarter expectations for the third time and ousted Richard McGinn as CEO. "The board determined ... that different skills were required at this point in the company's life," newly named chairman and CEO Henry Schacht said, during a conference call with analysts.

Lucent is looking for a replacement CEO.

The company now expects revenue from ongoing operations to drop 7 percent year-over-year in the first quarter, with break-even results, excluding a restructuring charge. Lucent will not provide guidance for the full fiscal 2001 until the next quarterly conference call.

Company executives blamed the disappointing results on a late launch of systems for OC-192 networks, steeper-than-expected declines in revenue and margins for switching products, and an increase in the reserve for bad debt among customers.

"We are clearly disappointed in our results for fiscal year 2000," Schacht said in a statement. "We are looking at fiscal year 2001 as a transition and rebuilding year for Lucent."

The company blamed much of the fourth quarter disappointment on massive revenue declines from two customers, including one U.S. company whose business for Lucent fell 48 percent year-over-year, and an overseas long-term project that saw a "substantial" cutback. Executives on the conference call declined to identify the customers involved, despite repeated questions from analysts seeking more information.

Lucent plans to review its product line, trim its corporate infrastructure and reorganize its marketing and sales by the end of the first quarter. "We're essentially taking the business apart to build it back up," CFO Deborah Hopkins told analysts.

For the full fiscal 2000, Lucent earned $1.5 billion, or 44 cents per share, on revenue of $34.5 billion. That includes one-time events and amortization charges.>