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EDITIONS
Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 23:16 GMT 00:16 UK
US companies weather the storm
Personal Computers ready to be shipped
Computer sales are still struggling
A string of results from US technology companies have met expectations and compounded suggestions that the worst of the gloomy corporate news could be over.

Online auction group ebay confidantly predicted it could sustain its strong growth rate into next year, while Nortel, the Canadian telecom equipment maker, said it expects to break even by the middle of 2003.

There was less optimism from technology groups Siebel and Gateway, which both posted losses for the last three months amid ongoing struggles in the sector.

However, analysts said the raft of earnings so far this month have indicated that the tide of negative sentiment could be turning.

Online boom

Ebay said it had continued to see strong consumer spending in the three months to September on a range of new and used goods.

The company, which bought the online payment service PayPal earlier this year, reported earnings of $61m or 21 cents per share for the quarter, a sharp jump from $18.8m a year earlier.

Ebay logo
Ebay is confident of further growth

Chief financial officer Rajiv Dutta confidently predicted that sales would continue to rise throughout the next year and into 2004.

He said the company's aggressive expansion was "absolutely continuing" and that there was still room to expand the site.

However, investors remained wary of the company's growth projections, with shares trading down 17 cents to $58.15 in after hours trading.

Tech companies still at loss

Nortel Networks, one of the world's largest telecom equipment makers, reported a loss of $1.8bn or 42 cents a share for the three months to September, as slowing demand from telecom companies continued to hit trading.

However, the results were in line with expectations and the group predicted sales in the three months to December would fare better.

The company predicted it would end the year with more than $3bn (1.9bn) in cash and said it expected to break even by the middle of 2003.

"If they actually make it to profitability in the middle of next year, then cash shouldn't be an issue," said Greg Teets, an analyst at AG Edwards and Sons.

Gateway to recovery?


The bulls re-assumed control on Wall Street today

Alfred Goldman, AG Edwards

There was less positive news from software maker Siebel Systems which reported a loss in the three month period compared to a profit this time last year.

The company, which sells software to help companies track sales and communicate with customers, reported a loss of $92m compared to a profit of $35m in the same period last year as it counted the cost of job cuts.

Meanwhile Gateway, the California-based personal computer maker suffered more in its domestic market than overseas.

Overall sales were up 12% but excluding international figures, the sales slipped 11%.

In the three months to the end of September, the company reported a loss of $49m, compared to $519m a year earlier.

Market cheer at last

Despite the companies' mixed fortunes, a string of good news from technology giants IBM and Microsoft had already buoyed market sentiment.

The groups reported better than anticipated results and helped sustain gains across world markets.

"The bulls re-assumed control on Wall Street today," said Alfred Goldman of AG Edwards.

"The market focused on positive earnings reports," he added, "and ignored weaker-than-expected readings".

See also:

19 Jul 02 | Business
24 Jan 02 | Business
02 Oct 02 | N Ireland
08 Jul 02 | Business
10 Sep 01 | Business
20 Jul 01 | Business
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