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Exabyte reports a hefty loss

    Exabyte Corp. (Nasdaq: EXBT) shares are already gnawed down to 4 3/4, but there is one small glimmer of hope -- the company on Tuesday reported a smaller than expected loss without a restructuring charge.

    The maker of network backup systems said Tuesday its third quarter loss was $17.5 million, or 78 cents a share, which does not compare favorably with a positive but meager net income of $338,000 or 2 cents a share for last year's third quarter. Exabyte said the results included a $2.5 million, or 11 cents a share, restructuring charge.

    The First Call estimate called for a loss of 69 cents a share. Backing out the restructuring charge, Exabyte beat estimates by two cents.

    Exabyte reported revenue for the quarter ended October 2 of $53 million, down from the $72.8 million in the comparable period in 1998.

    This isn't the first time Exabyte reported a poor quarter. The company reported worse-than-expected net loss for the second quarter ended July 3.

    Exabyte put an upside spin on its losses, saying that despite the one-time charge of $2.4 million for severance costs, benefits extensions and outplacement services, the company should see annual savings of $11 million as a result of the actions taken in late August.

    "Revenues reversed a downward trend that we had experienced the past four quarters and were in line with our expectations," said Bill Marriner, Exabyte's chairman, president and chief executive officer in a company release. "The order rate was stronger throughout the quarter, and we were able to grow the backlog modestly for the fourth quarter."

    The company said it remains focused on four goals: to recapture leadership in the midrange tape market with the launch of its Mammoth-2 tape drive in the fourth quarter; to provide the best automated tape libraries in the industry; to become a leader in the emerging network storage market; and to attract and develop a strong network of OEM and reseller partners.