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Irvine Computer Firm Sees $12-Million Loss

September 28, 1985|CARLA LAZZARESCHI | Times Staff Writer

Computer Automation Inc., a struggling Irvine computer and electronics manufacturer, said Friday that it expects a loss of $12 million to $15 million for its 1985 fiscal year, bringing its total losses for the last three years to more than $20 million.

The company also announced that it has named a new president and chief operating officer, Douglas L. Cutsforth, formerly head of Computer Automation's automatic test equipment division. Cutsforth succeeds company founder David Methvin, who resigned in April. George Pratt, the company's chairman and chief executive, has been acting president since April.

In addition to losing money in the fiscal year that ended June 30, the 17-year-old company said that it expects further losses for the current quarter, which ends Monday. Results for the 1985 fiscal year are expected to be released next month.

The company attributed the annual loss, its largest in the last three years, to unspecified write-downs and write-offs required by its recent efforts to reduce and restructure its floundering operations.

Since the beginning of the year, Computer Automation has taken steps to sell its unprofitable computer sales operation and has trimmed its work force by nearly 25%, to about 700 employees. Furthermore, the company is moving toward closing its manufacturing plant in Texas and may close its facility in Ireland, as well.

"We're sizing down, and that costs money," Cutsforth said. "We have a lot of cleaning up to do. We found ourselves with operations all over the world. . . . We must refocus the company."

In fact, Cutsforth's appointment was explained by the company as further indication of its intention to "place increased emphasis" on its automatic test equipment division, the unit that Cutsforth headed from 1978 until this week.

The unit, which Cutsforth described as "profitable and growing," makes devices to automatically check computer circuit boards for flaws. Cutsforth said the division's sales generate more than half the company's revenues, which reached about $50 million in the most recent fiscal year.

Earlier this month, a Kansas businessman became Computer Automation's single largest shareholder by purchasing 23.5% of its stock. The investor, Larry Doskocil, also purchased $3 million worth of debentures from the company, giving Computer Automation some much-needed operating cash.

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