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VA Linux meets lowered earnings estimate

The company, which makes computer workstations and hardware compatible with the Linux operating system, announces losses in line with revised Wall Street expectations.

VA Linux, which makes computer workstations and hardware compatible with the Linux operating system, announced losses Thursday in line with revised Wall Street expectations.

Excluding noncash items, VA reported a net loss of $7 million, or 15 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Oct. 27. In the same period last year, the company lost $7.2 million, or 27 cents per share.

A consensus of analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial expected a revised loss of 15 cents per share. Before VA revised its estimates earlier this month, analysts were predicting a loss of 9 cents per share.

The company's revenue grew to $56.1 million, up from $14.8 million in the year-earlier period, a 278 percent increase.

"While top- and bottom-line results did not meet our expectations for the quarter, we remain optimistic about our prospects for growth in the future," VA CEO Larry Augustin said in a statement. "We remain committed to profitability, excluding noncash charges, no later than the end of calendar 2001. And we anticipate revenue for fiscal 2001 to be approximately 2.25 times fiscal 2000 revenue."

Two weeks ago, the Fremont, Calif.-based company warned that its fiscal fourth-quarter sales would not meet expectations due to slowing hardware sales from new customers in the venture-funded dot-com sector. The news sent the stock into a tailspin, plummeting 42 percent to $17.38 in a single day.

VA shares closed down 56 cents, or 4.48 percent, to $12 on Thursday. The company reported earnings after the market closed. In after-hours trading, the stock was up to $14, according to Island ECN.

Analysts say they will be looking closely to see whether VA can bolster its customer base with more established companies and move away from dot-com clients.

VA has traditionally looked for new customers in the dot-com sector because start-ups are more likely to adopt new technology than are larger, more established companies. With the recent dot-com die-off, however, hardware orders from this group have slowed.

"I'll be looking for progress that they've made into shifting their customers from dot-com to corporate tech customers, signs that they're moving upstream, selling to larger corporations," said Prakesh Patel, an analyst with WR Hambrecht.