Texas Instruments Inc., the top maker of semiconductors for cell phones, posted a fourth-quarter net loss after a large investment write-down, but otherwise beat expectations with strong sales of chips for wireless handsets.
The company reported a net loss for the quarter of U.S. $589 million, or $0.34 a share, compared with a loss of $116 million, or $0.7 a share, a year earlier.
Texas Instruments said the loss was primarily due to a $638 million write-down of shares in Micron Technology Inc., which it received when it sold its memory business unit to Micron in 1998. The write-down reduced earnings by $0.37 per share, the company said.
Excluding one-time items, which also included acquisition-related cost amortization and restructuring charges related to layoffs of 500 workers, the company recorded a profit of $100 million, or $0.6 per share.
"The semiconductor business did better than expected," coming in even with the third quarter rather than dropping slightly as the company expected, Chief Financial Officer Bill Aylesworth told Reuters. "That really is what drove the higher (operating) earnings."
Sales of wireless cell phone chips rose 13 percent sequentially, while demand was also strong for Digital Signal Processing (DSP) chips used in cameras and power management chips used in laptops, he said.
In its outlook for the first quarter, Texas Instruments said it expected revenue to be about the same as the fourth quarter and earnings per share to be about $0.6.
"This reflects a slight decline in our wireless revenues, sequentially, offset by growth in other" businesses, Mr. Aylesworth said. He predicted continued growth in sales of digital light processors used in corporate projectors and large TV screens.
"We think our customers' inventory status is really pretty healthy," he added. "Our wireless customers went through the holiday season and came through with no significant inventories over what they would have wanted. That would indicate we can get off to a good start" in 2003. (Reuters)
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