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Tech Industry

Earnings Roundup: PRI Automation turns profit in 1Q; CFO leaves

PRI Automation, Inc. (Nasdaq: PRIA), maker of automation systems for semiconductor factories, said Thursday its financial chief was leaving just as it reported a solid quarter. First quarter earnings were $294,000, or a penny a share, right on target with First Call's consensus.

Net income for the quarter was an improvement from the net loss of $5.1 million, or 23 cents a share in the previous quarter and the net loss of $7.7 million, or $0.36 per share, in 1998's first quarter.

Net revenue for the first quarter was $58.7 million, a 40 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 98 percent increase from the first quarter of the prior fiscal year.

PRI's growth was aided by the recovery in the semiconductor industry. Other chip equipment makers have also posted good results. PRI gained market share across all product lines, the company said.

PRI said Steve Allison, the company's CFO, is departing. It has not yet found a replacement for him.

Another semiconductor-related company, Micrel Incorporated (Nasdaq: MCRL) said Thursday fourth quarter earnings were 26 cents a share, topping First Call's prediction of 24 cents a share.

Shares in the maker of telecommunications chips rose 1/4 to 71 1/2.

Net income for the quarter was $11.8 million, compared with a net loss of $1.5 million, or 4 cents a share in the fourth quarter of 1998. Net income for 1999 was $36.7 million, or 82 cents a share, compared to $17.2 million in 1998.

Revenue was $60.3 million, up 59 percent from the year ago period. For the year, revenue increased 39 percent to $195.1 million.

Strong demand for Micrel's high bandwidth products for the fiber optic communications market and increased demand for standard analog products in the telecom, computer and industrial markets drove growth, the company said.

Micrel introduced 19 new products in the fourth quarter, and bought Altos Semiconductor in December to get a leg up in the temperature sensing and thermal management market.

In other earnings news, Aerial Communications (Nasdaq: AERL) said strong holiday sales and continuing reduction in churn brought fourth loss to 81 cents a share, compared to First Call's predicted loss of $1.07 a share.

Shares in the telecommunications equipment maker were down 1/4 to 58 3/8.

The company's net loss was $70.5 million for the quarter, slightly narrower than the $82.3 million in 1998's quarter.

Total revenue for the quarter was $63.4 million, an increase of 29 percent from the fourth quarter of a year ago. For the year, total operating revenue was $226 million, up 45 percent from 1998.

Average revenue per unit (ARPU) for post-pay customers was $47.64, down slightly from the third quarter, reflecting the increased competition and the dynamics of the holiday season.

Aerial said its improved organization will provide a benefit as the company combines with VoiceStream after the close of the planned merger.'

Full year EBITDA, including $11 million of systems Y2K costs, was a loss of $118.0 million, a 40 percent improvement over 1998 results. Aerial's loss before income taxes on a per share basis for 1999 was $3.73 versus a loss of $4.68 for 1998.