Novell sees daylight in Q4

Novell Inc. beat analysts' estimates by a whisker this afternoon, pulling in $7 million, or 2 cents per share, for the fourth quarter.

Sales for the quarter ended Oct. 31 were $269.3 million, down almost 30 per cent from a year ago but a marked improvement over the third quarter, when Novell posted a mere $90 million in sales and a $122 million net loss, including a restructuring charge of $55 million.

Wall Street analysts surveyed by First Call had expected earnings of 1 cent per share.

In May, the Orem, Utah, networking veteran unveiled plans to cut about 1,000 jobs, or 18 per cent of its work force, leaving it with about 4,800 employees.

Today CEO Eric Schmidt pointed to rebounding sales in all channels as a sign that the company may have turned the tide.

"I'm pleased to report that demand for our products came back from our entire distribution channel - value-added resellers, multiproduct licensing programs and original equipment manufacturers," Schmidt said in a release. "Fourth-quarter performance shows that the changes we've made in Novell's business are taking hold. We have also set a faster pace for product introductions and market initiatives."

Fiscal 1998, he said, would be a year of "further investment."

For fiscal year 1997, the company posted a net loss of $78 million, or 22 cents per share, on sales of $1 billion.

In the quarter, Novell rolled out new products for its BorderManager network services suite and officially released Version 5.2 of its GroupWise groupware.

Novell closed up 44 cents at $9.19 today.

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