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Network Computing Devices narrows loss in fourth quarter

Network Computing Devices Inc. (Nasdaq: NCDI) trimmed its losses in its fourth quarter but still dropped $5.1 million, or 31 cents a share, on sales of $25.4 million.

There was no First Call consensus estimate for Network Computing this quarter.

Earlier this quarter, the company said it would post a loss of around $2 million. On Tuesday, it told the Street the loss would be in excess of $5 million.

"It was an extremely tough quarter and a difficult year all around," said CEO Rudolph Morin in a prepared release. "We believe NCD moved quickly and aggressively to address the needs of the various segments of our markets - in terms of both software and hardware - but it is clear that we just have to do a much, much better job."

The $25.4 million in sales was down slightly from the year-ago quarter when it lost $5.6 million, or 35 cents a share, on sales of $26.2 million.

Sales of its ThinSTAR Windows-based terminals improved 10 percent from the third quarter but its ThinPATH thin client software sales were flat.

Company officials said that the quarter's results were also affected by lower-than-planned sales of its own branded network computers and, as expected, the winding down of its OEM agreement to supply similar hardware to IBM Corporation.

It also was tagged by lower gross profit margins as a result of changes in product mix, and wrote off about $1.5 million related to inventory and other assets.

For the year, Network Computing lost $16.3 million, or $1 a share, on sales of $109 million compared to a loss of $9.1 million, or 56 cents a share, on sales of $105.6 million in fiscal 1998. The fiscal 1999 results included a one-time non-cash charge of $6.9 million, or 43 cents a share.

Morin said the company will take a one-time restructuring charge of $1 million in the current quarter to cut costs.

Its shares moved up to a 52-week high of 9 in December after falling to a low of 3 7/8 in October.

The lone analyst tracking the stock rates it a "buy." >