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Lucent reports loss as sales slide

Revenue at the telecommunications equipment maker tumbles 23 percent from the third quarter to the fourth, but the company manages to edge past analysts' estimates for earnings.

Revenue at telecommunications equipment maker Lucent Technologies slid 23 percent from the third quarter to the fourth, but the company managed to edge past analysts' estimates for earnings.

Lucent reported pro forma sales of $2.28 billion for for its fourth fiscal quarter, ended Sept. 30, down from $2.95 billion in the third quarter, and $4.75 billion a year ago. The Murray Hill, N.J., company lost 64 cents per share from continuing operations, compared with 28 cents per share in the year-ago quarter. Analysts had been expecting Lucent to report a loss of 65 cents per share.

Lucent, which recently announced plans to lay off an additional 10,000 workers, warned analysts earlier this month that its loss would be greater than originally expected. The company said then that the drop was due to restructuring moves designed to help it reach a break-even revenue level of $2.5 billion per quarter.

On Wednesday, company executives said they expected Lucent to return to profitability by the end of fiscal 2003 and that revenue could be flat to down as much as 10 percent in the first fiscal quarter, but Lucent should be able to make sequential improvements to the bottom line.

"We are taking actions that will reduce our cost and expense structure to achieve quarterly break-even revenue at $2.5 billion by the end of fiscal 2003, and we are working to reduce it further," CEO Patricia Russo said in a statement. "At the same time, we are maintaining an industry-leading portfolio that will enable us to emerge as a more focused business when the market returns.

The fourth-quarter results include a loss of 38 cents per share related to a significant customer financing default, as well as write-downs for asset impairments. The company did not give further details.

Lucent recorded a net loss of $2.81 billion or 84 cents per share, including charges for restructuring and asset write-offs, as well as a $141 million gain related to the sale of its optical fiber business.

For the full year, Lucent said that pro forma revenue declined around 37 percent to $12.2 billion, while its loss from continuing operations almost doubled, rising to $2.95 per share in fiscal 2002 from $1.50 per share in fiscal 2001.

Including charges related to restructuring, legal settlements, acquisitions, asset write-offs and gains from sales of some business divisions, Lucent reported for all of fiscal 2002 a loss from continuing operations of $11.8 billion, or $3.51 per share, compared with $14.2 billion, or $4.18 per share.