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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Shares of Apple Computer Inc. plunged 17 percent Wednesday after the company lowered its revenue forecast for the remainder of its fiscal year.

The company posted a 70 percent drop in third-quarter profits Tuesday, beating Wall Street expectations by two pennies per share, but it said it expects revenues for the second half of the year to be around $3 billion, compared to the previous range of $3.2 billion to $3.4 billion.

“We haven’t seen any signs of an upturn in the consumer PC market,” Fred Anderson, Apple’s chief financial officer, told analysts in a conference call.

Apple introduced new products at the MacWorld Expo in New York, including a basic-level iMac with a rewritable CD drive for $999. The company did not indicate whether it thought any of the announcements would significantly boost its outlook.

Shares of Apple fell $4.33 to $20.77 in late morning trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Apple hasn’t announced layoffs or major cutbacks and is faring better than other PC vendors, but “it continues to be a tough PC environment and it’s difficult to fight that tide,” said David Bailey, an analyst with Gerard Klauer Mattison & Co.

The overall personal computer industry is saturated and struggling with the economic slowdown. Compaq Computer Corp. last week lowered its second-quarter revenue forecast from $9 billion to $8.4 billion.

For the three months ended June 30, Apple said it earned $61 million, or 17 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call had projected earnings of 15 cents a share.

Apple earned $200 million, or 55 cents per share, in the year-ago period, but excluding one-time items it earned $163 million or 45 cents per share.

Revenues were $1.47 billion for the quarter, down 19 percent from the $1.82 billion of the year-ago period.

onthenet

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