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Sybase expects first-quarter loss

Number-two database vendor Sybase still struggles for profitability.

Number-two database vendor Sybase is expecting a loss for its first quarter after revenue fell more than $20 million from the previous three months.

The company expects to report an operating loss of $.07 to $.12 per share on revenues of $245 million for the quarter ending March 31. Although revenue was up $29 million over the same period a year before, it was down from the $267.3 million reported in the fourth quarter endiing December 31. Final figures are expected April 11.

To accompany the bad news, Sybase announced a reorganization that splits the company into two major divisions: the Enterprise Business Group for high-end, enterprise-wide customers and the Powersoft Business Group for application developers and the desktop market. Sybase COO David Peterschmidt stepped down as part of the reorganization and will be retained as a consultant.

Once widely regarded as the technical leader in databases and still ranked second in market share, Sybase struggled financially in 1995 after several delays in the delivery of the awaited System 11 release of its SQL Server flagship. Charges related to a merger with tools developer Powersoft also resulted in a loss of $19.5 million for 1995.

But when the company finally shipped System 11 in January and caught up in performance and scalability to competitors Oracle and Informix Software, Sybase executives predicted that the firm would quickly pull out of its financial doldrums.

Sybase's arch-rival Oracle reported revenue of $967 million for its second quarter ended November 30, up from $670 million for the same period a year earlier. The company reported net income of $137 million, or $0.31 per share.