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Valuation, margin squeeze taint Antec earnings

Shares of Antec Corp. (Nasdaq: ANTC) plummeted 12 15/16, or 23 percent, to 43 5/8 Wednesday even though the network-equipment maker met analysts' estimates in its third quarter.

In the quarter, Antec earned $10.7 million, or 27 cents a share, on sales of $237 million.

The $237 million in sales marks a 58 percent improvement compared to the year-ago quarter when it made $4.9 million, or 13 cents a share, on sales of $150 million.

First Call consensus pegged the Duluth, Ga. company for a profit of 27 cents a share.

However, Antec shares were hammered on concerns that it's trading at more than 40 times its fiscal 2000 earnings. Also, the company's ramping up production of some of its lower margin components which could drag the overall profit margins down in future quarters.

Order input for the third quarter reached a new high of $239 million, up 75 percent over the same period last year, and Antec ended the quarter with a backlog of $102 million, up 100 percent from the third quarter last year. Backlog continues to build even as sales have reached all time highs for each of the past two quarters.

"In the past we have said that we were extremely pleased with the building momentum of all facets of our business," said COO Bob Stanzione in a prepared release. "Our results this quarter reflect that momentum."

Antec shares hit a 52-week high of 60 1/4 earlier this month after trading at a low of 11 1/2 last October.

Eight of the nine analysts tracking the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.