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Apple may close plants, lay off staff

Apple Computer's earnings report on a dismal first quarter is due today. The company is expected to announce layoffs and possibly the closure or sale of some of its facilities.

Apple Computer's earnings report on a dismal first quarter is due today. The company has already forecast a $68 million loss, and analysts expect the report will be accompanied by news of layoffs and possible plant closures and sales.

Reports indicate that the company may also announce a new focus on the high end of its Macintosh computer line, leaving the low-end business to clone makers like Power Computing and Umax.

Reports that layoffs will affect 1,300 to 3,000 workers have some Apple employees holding their breath. At last week's Macworld Expo, a testing engineer for Apple refused to give his name when asked to comment on the company's situation. "No way, sister," he said. "There's layoffs coming."

Expectations are much brighter for Intel and Sun Microsystems, whose respective earnings reports are due later today. Analysts expect Intel to report fourth-quarter earnings of $1.10 per share and look to the chip maker's performance as a gauge of the overall health of the technology industry.