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Ricochet wounds Metricom&#039s 4Q

Metricom, Inc. (Nasdaq: MCOM) reported a whopping fourth-quarter loss of $2.51 a share as it continued to roll out its Ricochet product for wireless Internet connection. Nevertheless, the loss was far narrower than First Call's consensus estimate for a loss of $3.02 a share.

Shares in the company, which provides mobile wireless access to corporate networks and the Internet were down 1/4 to 96 Wednesday morning. The stock has slowed its ascent after a rapid rise which made it one of the top-performing stocks of 1999. The company filed for a secondary offering in January to tap into that market success.

Fourth quarter revenue was $4.9 million, compared with $3.7 million for the same period of 1998. Net loss for the quarter was $56.3 million or $2.51 per share compared with a net loss of $38.2 million or $2.04 per share for the same period of the prior year.

Year-end results showed 1999 revenue was $18.5 million, up from $15.9 million for fiscal 1998.

The company said net loss, which was in line with company expectations, was due to the ongoing deployment of its high-speed Ricochet networks in multiple markets across the United States. Net loss for the year ended December 31 was $104.5 million, or $5.13 per share, compared with $84.2 million, or $4.63 per share, in 1998. The net loss includes a non-cash accounting charge of $33.2 million related to the beneficial conversion privilege associated with redeemable convertible preferred stock issued in the fourth quarter of 1999.

"1999 was a turnaround year for Metricom as we firmed our focus on providing Ricochet 128 kbps for mobile professionals and laid the groundwork for execution in 2000," said Tim Dreisbach, President and CEO of Metricom.