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Micron Technology wins for losing

The maker of semiconductor memory products beats Wall Street's expectations for its most recent quarter, but says it lost nearly $90 million at the same time.

Micron Technology beat Wall Street's expectations today but said it lost nearly $90 million during the three-month period ended September 3, "primarily due to severe declines in per megabit selling prices on the company's semiconductor memory products."

Micron Technology reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $89.1 million or 42 cents a share, compared with net income of $72.1 million or 33 cents a share reported for the like quarter a year ago.

The company was expected to lose 54 cents a share, according to First Call. Its quarterly revenue fell to $692 million from $946.2 million last year.

Like most companies in the semiconductor and computer components industries, Micron has been besieged with financial difficulties this year. Micron Electronics turns corner The company's revenue declines are reflective of the falling prices in the memory market as a whole. Per megabit prices fell about 60 percent in fiscal 1998, the company said.

"While this has been a challenging year, we have positioned Micron as the lowest-cost DRAM manufacturer and have a significant edge on our competition," chief executive Steve Appleton said in a statement. "Although we cannot yet determine if recent stability in the market will be sustained, current market conditions are encouraging."

The financial results come amid reports that semiconductor giant Intel will make an investment in the 20-year-old memory chipmaker. Neither company has confirmed that speculation, however.

Micron Technology stock finished more than 4 percent lower today ahead of the news, at 32.5. The shares have traded as high as 38.9375 and as low as 20.0625 during the past 52 weeks.

The company reported a fiscal 1998 net loss of $233.7 million or $1.10 per share, compared with net income of $332.2 million or $1.55 a share posted for fiscal 1997.

Excluding a one-time gain during the second quarter, Micron would have lost $271.7 million or $1.28 per share.

Analysts expected the company to lose $1.23 per share for fiscal 1998, according to a First Call consensus of 16 market analysts.

Annual revenue fell to $3 billion from $3.5 billion in fiscal 1997.