Lucent posts tenth quarterly loss in a row

Lucent Technologies Inc. posted its tenth consecutive quarterly loss on Wednesday, as customers continue to cut spending with the telecommunications equipment maker.

The Murray Hill, N.J., company reported a net loss of US$2.81 billion, or US$0.84 per share, for its fourth fiscal quarter of 2002, ended Sept. 30, compared with an US$8.8 billion net loss, or US$2.59 per share in the same period a year ago, Lucent said in a statement.

“We acknowledge that this last quarter was pretty ugly,” said Lucent Chief Executive Officer Patricia Russo on a conference call with analysts and media.

Revenue for the fourth fiscal quarter declined 56 per cent to US$2.28 billion compared with US$5.16 billion in the year-ago quarter, Lucent said.

Lucent warned about poor fourth quarter earnings and earlier this month said it would cut another 10,000 jobs during the next 12 months to reduce its workforce to about 35,000 people.

Sales are expected to be “flat to down approximately 10 per cent” in the current quarter before recovering in the second quarter of 2003, Lucent said. The company plans to hit its targeted break-even rate at quarterly sales of US$2.5 billion by next September, “based on conversations with [Lucent’s] customers,” Russo said.

Russo asserted that Lucent had made progress in 2002 in stemming its losses through its restructuring measures and reiterated the company’s forecasts for returning to profitability late in the 2003 fiscal year, a sentiment echoed by the company’s chief financial officer (CFO).

“We have clearly demonstrated our ability to significantly reduce costs and expenses, and we will continue to improve the way we run the business by streamlining the processes we use with our customers and driving greater efficiency through improvements in supply chain and information systems,” said Frank D’Amelio, Lucent’s CFO and executive vice-president, also on the conference call.

“We will match our product portfolio more closely to our customers’ current buying patterns with the emphasis on the clearest and most immediate opportunities in our core areas of strength – optical, circuit and packet switching, mobility, software – and on increasing our focus on services,” he said.

Lucent remains committed to UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) technology but does not expect any UMTS revenue in fiscal 2003 due to a slower-than-anticipated uptake of the technology across the market, both Russo and D’Amelio said.

In the company’s mobility solutions division, forth quarter revenue was US$882 million, a decrease of 39 per cent from the previous quarter and down 55 per cent compared with the year-ago quarter, Lucent said. The company expects to see revenue gains in the division in the first and second quarters of fiscal year 2003.

Lucent’s integrated network solutions (INS) division, which includes its optical networking business, posted US$1.33 billion in the fourth quarter, a decrease of 6 per cent sequentially and a decrease of 49 per cent compared with the year-ago quarter, the company said.

In the services sector, an area that the company will devote continued attention to in an attempt to return to profitability, revenue in the fourth quarter was US$560 million, down from US$630 million in the previous quarter, D’Amelio said.