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PRI tops estimates, inks deal

    PRI Automation, Inc. (Nasdaq: PRIA) said earnings for its second fiscal quarter ended April 2 were 23 cents a share, topping estimates. The company also announced a multi-million dollar deal with Hyundai Electronics.

    First Call Corp. predicted earnings of 17 cents a share.

    Shares in the maker of advanced automation systems and software for the semiconductor industry were up 1/2 to 69 1/8. The company reported a strong first quarter in January, but also announced the departure of its CFO.

    Net revenue for the second quarter was $76.7 million, up 31 percent over the previous quarter, and up 153 percent from the second quarter of fiscal 1999.

    Net income for the quarter was $5.8 million, or 23 cents a share, compared with $294,000, or 1 cent a diluted share, for the previous quarter and a net loss of $10.2 million, or 48 cents a share a year ago.

    "Bookings for the quarter were $105 million, an increase of 33 percent from the previous quarter, resulting in a book-to-bill ratio of nearly 1.4,'' said Mitch Tyson, president and chief executive officer of PRI Automation. `

    PRI announced Thursday it has received a multi- million dollar order from Hyundai Electronics Industries Co., Ltd. in Korea.

    The company won four major factory automation orders in the quarter; two in the U.S., one in Europe and one in Korea, from Hyundai Electronics. The order from Hyundai, which follows an order from Samsung announced earlier in the quarter, significantly strengthens its market presence in Korea.

    "We believe that the upturn still has a long way to go, and our outlook for the future remains bullish,'' Tyson said. "Our backlog is strong, the order pipeline, based on the number of projects we are tracking, is strengthening," he added.

    PRI competes with Brooks Automation (Nasdaq: BRKS), Entegris, and Asyst Tehnologies (Nasdaq: ASYT).