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AST still struggling

AST announces a widening third-quarter loss, marking the ninth consecutive quarter the company's been in the red.

AST (ASTA), a troubled computer maker that is losing market share and has undergone a management shakeup, today announced a widening third-quarter loss, marking the ninth consecutive quarter it has been in the red.

AST reported a loss of $135.3 million, or $2.41 a share, for the quarter ending September 28, compared with a loss of $96.4 million or $2.36 a share a year ago. The recent quarterly loss included a $21.6 million one-time charge relating to the 1993 acquisition of Tandy's PC manufacturing operations.

The third-quarter results were worse than analysts' estimates of a per-share loss of $1.48, according to First Call.

Revenues, meanwhile, slightly exceeded their level from a year ago, marking the first quarterly year-to-year increase during the past five consecutive quarters.

Revenues reached $408.5 million for the quarter, up from $403.4 million a year ago. Sales were driven primarily from a 19 percent increase in the Americas, while overseas sales in Europe and Asia declined 14 percent due to competition.

"Our operating performance remains disappointing, but the numbers really do not tell the story at AST right now," said Y.S. Kim, chief executive and president, in a statement. "In just eight weeks time, our new senior management team has begun to aggressively address the key operational challenges that need to be met in order to turn the company around."

Kim replaced Ian Diery in August, who resigned after less than a year at the company. His departure was soon followed by Joseph Norberg, chief financial officer. Norberg was replaced by acting CFO Won Suk Yang. AST has also hired Noh Byung Park as worldwide development and manufacturing vice president.

Kim and Yang were formerly with Samsung Electronics, a major investor that has contributed more than $60 million to the company.

The computer maker also announced today that Samsung signed a nonbinding letter of intent to provide $200 million in bank credit guarantees in exchange for preferred stock.