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Liberate warns of lower sales

The interactive TV software maker says the slow pace at which network operators are launching advanced digital services is affecting sales--but earnings should be on track with earlier estimates.

Liberate Technologies warned Monday that sales for the fourth quarter will fall short of expectations, but the interactive TV software maker said earnings will meet previous estimates.

The San Carlos, Calif.-based company expects to report a pro forma net loss of 6 cents per share on revenue of $20 million to $21 million for its fiscal fourth quarter, ended May 31. The company previously had given a revenue guidance of $25 million to $25.5 million.

"Our strong expense management permitted us to meet our pro forma earnings estimates despite lower-than-expected pro forma revenues," Nancy Hilker, Liberate's chief financial officer, said in a statement.

Hilker estimated that the company's fourth-quarter cash burn rate will be about $22 million, down from the previous estimate of $28 million. Hilker added that the company has cash and cash equivalents, short-term and long-term investments of approximately $390 million.

"The combination of several factors--including the broader economic environment as well as financial restructuring and slowing capital expenditures in the cable industry--has slowed the pace at which network operators are launching advanced digital services," Chief Executive Officer Mitchell Kertzman said in a statement.

The company did not give estimates for the next quarter's revenue, but Kertzman anticipated a trend toward higher pro forma revenue. Liberate pushed back its estimates of reaching pro forma profitability from the first half of its fiscal year 2003 to the second half, which extends from June 1, 2002 through May 31, 2003.

Kertzman added that there are 3 million set-top boxes using the company's interactive TV software.

The company will announce its final financial results June 27.