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High-tech earnings roundup

Baan, Read-Rite, Artisoft, CheckFree, Raptor, and General Magic all report earnings, with mixed results.

Business-management software maker Baan (BAANF) today announced revenue of $173.2 million, a 65 percent increase over revenues of $105 million for the third quarter of 1996.

Net income for the quarter was $18.3 million, or 18 cents per share, including restructuring and other charges in connection with the company's merger with Aurum Software, as well as an adjustment for a reduction in the company's tax rate. Excluding the charges, net income would have been $21.6 million, or 21 cents per share. During the same quarter a year ago, Baan reported net income of $9.5 million, or 10 cents per share.

Baan's stock gained 5/8 to end the day at 75-1/8, up from yesterday's close of 74-1/2.

Read-Rite (RDRT) today reported sales of $318.2 million for the fourth quarter ending September 30, a 63 percent increase over the $195.4 million the company reported for the comparable period of fiscal 1996.

Net income was $30.5 million, or 61 cents a share, compared with a loss of $63.9 million, or 1.37 a share, reported for the fourth quarter of fiscal 1996.

Toward the end of the current year's fourth quarter, Read-Rite battled a general industry slowdown in demand for recording heads, due primarily to a lower-than-anticipated average number of heads per drive and reduced demand for heads in the high-end segment. Nevertheless, it shipped 29.7 million thin-film recording heads during the fourth quarter of fiscal 1997, including a record 5.2 million head stack assemblies (HSAs).

In October, the company entered into a new $200 million credit facility, which includes a $150 million revolving line of credit and a $50 million term loan. The new credit facility replaces an unused $65 million revolving line of credit and refinances a $50 million term loan.

The company's stock gained 1/2 to end the day at 23-1/4, up from yesterday's close of 22-3/4.

Also reporting today was networking and communications solutions provider Artisoft (ASFT), posting earnings of $238,000, or 2 cents a share, for the first fiscal quarter ending September 30, compared with a loss of $3.4 million, or 23 cents a share, a year ago. The company had net sales of $6.7 million, down from $11.1 million reported for the same quarter a year earlier.

Artisoft attributed its profitability to its efforts to reduce costs and increase gross profit margins. Total operating expenses decreased to $5.1 million, down from $12.6 million for the first quarter of fiscal 1997.

The company's stock gained 1/16 to end the day at 2-3/4, up from yesterday's close of 2-11/16.

Online payments firm CheckFree (CKFR) reported that its quarterly revenues hit $52.1 million for the quarter ending September 30, up from $32.7 million for the same quarter in 1996.

CheckFree reported a net loss of $3.3 million for the quarter, or 6 cents per share, excluding special items. It improved on a 19-cents-per-share loss for the same period in 1996. That beat the consensus of Wall Street analysts, as reported by First Call, who expected a loss of 8 cents per share.

Cash flow generated $2.2 million for the quarter, excluding the gain on CheckFree's July 1 sale of its Recovery Management Software business (RMS), to London Bridge Software Holdings for $35 million.

Counting the gain, CheckFree reported net income $9.8 million, or 17 cents per share, for the quarter. The company said it remains comfortable with analysts' projections that it will break even by the first quarter of calendar 1998 and reach profitability by mid-1998.

Firewall software vendor Raptor Systems (RAPT) reported higher revenues and fatter profits for the quarter ending September 30, slightly beating Wall Street estimates.

Revenues jumped 77 percent, to $7.3 million, compared with $4.1 million for the same 1996 quarter. That revenue figure was about 10 percent higher than the previous quarter's, in line with company projections.

Quarterly net income was $1.35 million, or 9 cents a share, beating the Wall Street consensus of 8 cents a share, according to First Call. Profits compared to $705,000, or 5 cents per share, for the 1996 quarter.

Operating margins grew to 19 percent. Raptor has stated a goal of reaching 20-percent margins next quarter.

Networking services company General Magic (GMGC) has pulled another rabbit out of its corporate hat, shrinking its losses for the third quarter in a row.

For the third quarter of 1997, General Magic incurred a net loss of $4.8 million, or 18 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $12.4 million, or 48 cents per share, for the corresponding quarter in 1996.

The company continued to control its operating expenses, while growing its revenues from $300,000 in the second quarter of 1997 to $2.6 million for the quarter ended September 30, as a result of a $2 million royalty infusion from an existing licensing agreement with Magic Cap.

The company said it is still streamlining its operations as it gets ready to bring its Serengeti virtual assistant network service to market by mid-1998.