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3 High-Tech Firms Report Mixed Results for Quarter

May 20, 1986|DONNA K. H. WALTERS | Times Staff Writer

In earnings reports from the high-technology industry Monday, it was the good, the mediocre and the downright ugly.

Software maker Ashton-Tate said its first-quarter net income boomed to $5.1 million, an increase of almost 120% from the year-ago period. But Hewlett-Packard, a Palo Alto computer and scientific instruments maker, reported its fifth consecutive quarter of earnings decline and Commodore International its fifth consecutive quarterly loss.

Commodore said the company's deepening problems have caused it to begin a program of slashing its expenses almost in half. Included has been a 25% work-force reduction that has cost almost 1,100 jobs since the beginning of the year.

In reporting its $36.7-million loss for its third fiscal quarter, Commodore said sales of its Amiga--the graphics-oriented personal computer--were less than expected during the quarter. However, higher-than-anticipated sales of its aging Commodore 64 line of home computers helped push the West Chester, Pa., company's revenue up 8% from the year-ago period to $182.3 million.

Irving Gould, Commodore's chairman, said negotiations with its lenders are continuing. In February, the company got a reprieve from its bankers and a $135-million line of credit.

Gould, seemingly indicating that the company was not in danger of being forced to seek bankruptcy court protection, said Commodore still has "the support of its major lenders."

Hewlett-Packard said its net income for the second fiscal quarter totaled $127 million, down about 2% from $129 million in the same period a year ago. Revenue rose 6% to $1.8 billion.

Although the company's orders rose 6% during the three-month period, U.S. order levels remained nearly flat and were rounded out by a 12% hike in international orders. "We remain cautious because, as in the United States, fundamental buying trends in most major countries have not rebounded," said John A. Young, president and chief executive.

The company said orders for new products, especially the updated version of its HP 3000 minicomputer, accounted for 10% of all orders in the first half of the year. However, the company's most dramatic new product line, the Spectrum series of computers, won't begin contributing to revenue at least until 1987.

At Torrance-based Ashton-Tate, the third-largest independent maker of computer software, the earnings increase came on a 71.8% rise in revenue to $41.2 million from the year-ago quarter.

The current quarter, which ended April 30, was the first full quarter that Ashton-Tate saw revenue from its Multimate line of products. Ashton-Tate purchased the Multimate line last December, more than a month into its quarter.

Ashton-Tate officials said that in addition to the "excellent sales" of the Multimate programs, revenue was pushed up by an increased demand for its dBase III Plus software product.

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