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Nice Systems plunges on warning

Nice Systems (Nasdaq: NICE) was hit hard Thursday, dropping over 35 percent, after the company lowered revenue and earnings numbers for its fourth quarter.

Shares in the Israeli-based company that makes multimedia digital recording technology fell 16 to 29. The company had been strong performer this year, topping estimates for both its second and third quarters.

According to CEO Benny Levin, the company’s lowered guidance is due to the sector-wide slump in the telecommunications and information technology (IT) markets. The slowdown resulted in the postponement of orders that were due to close in the quarter, he added.

The company now expects fourth quarter revenue to come in "well below" market expectations, between $39 million and $40 million.

As a result, the company sees a net loss of between 6 cents and 0 cents per diluted share, excluding charges related to the previously announced acquisition of certain assets of Stevens Communications Inc. First Call analysts had forecast a profit of 58 cents a share.

Nice Systems officials also said that company's outlook for 2001 will be re-evaluated and that further guidance will be provided. Analyst estimates for fiscal year 2001 call for a profit of $2.10 per share.