Apple Sinks on Profit Warning

Apple Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: AAPL)plunged 2 3/8 to 14 5/8 in the first few minutes of trading Wednesday afterthe Cupertino, California-based computer maker became the latest to warn thatslow sales will hurt quarterly results.

Apple said “significantly slower than expected sales” of its products in thepast two months will result in revenue and earnings for the first quarterending December 30th that are “substantially below expectations.” Promotionsaimed at boosting sales also hurt revenue, the company said.

Revenue will be about US$1 billion, some $600 million below previousexpectations, and the loss before investment gains will be between $225million and $250 million, Apple said.

“The swift industry-wide decline in PC sales will result in Apple’s firstnon-profitable quarter in three years,” said chief executive officer SteveJobs. “We’re not happy about it, and plan to return to sustainedprofitability next quarter.”

As a result of this quarter’s shortfall, revenue for fiscal 2001 will be $6billion to $6.5 billion, the company said.

Jobs said Apple’s management is “committed to reducing inventories” thisquarter, and is planning new products and programs for 2001.

Apple shares, which last spring traded above 71, are now close to a52-week low.

Apple’s forecast follows similar warnings from rival computer makers Delland Gateway, which have also said slow sales of personal computers duringthe holiday season will hurt results for the current quarter.

Other technology companies are also running into difficulty. Just a day ago,3Com Corp. said results will be worse than previously thought, because aconsolidating telecom industry has led to weaker demand for its networkequipment products.

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