Apple Computer Reports $32-Million Net in Quarter

Apple Computer said Wednesday that it earned $32.3 million in its third fiscal quarter, continuing its strong comeback performance since a $17.2-million loss in the third quarter of 1985--its only quarterly loss.

Significantly, the personal computer maker said the earnings came on a 20% improvement in sales to $448.3 million from the year-ago quarter. In the previous two quarters, the profit increases came on declining sales.

The earnings were in line with most analysts' expectations. "Apple is, for a change, doing as everyone expected," said Paul D. Evans, a securities analyst with S. G. Warburg, Rowe & Pitman, Akroyd in San Francisco.

Apple Chairman John Sculley agreed, saying in a prepared statement: "These results are in line with our expectations."

Strong sales of its Macintosh computer are generally credited for much of the Cupertino, Calif., company's vibrancy lately in what has been a spotty market for computer products.

"We are beginning to see revenue growth as our Macintosh computer products gain acceptance in the business market," Sculley's statement continued.

Apple is expected to announce new products in its Apple II line by September, and continuing development costs on the Apple II and future Macintosh products will require a high level of expenditures through the end of this year.

At 52.7%, profit margins were up substantially from the year-ago quarter but were below the second-quarter level. However, continuing improvements in its cash balance and inventory reduction during the quarter will help position the company for an even stronger 1987, analysts believe.

Apple has $568 million in the bank. Analyst John J. Girton of Birr, Wilson & Co. in San Francisco said: "I continue to wonder what they'll do with that cash." He said speculation has included acquisition of a software company or a local area network supplier.

Detroit-based Burroughs, a maker of large mainframe computers, was more effusive about its net earnings, which rose 41% to $76.2 million.

"These results exceeded our expectations," Chairman W. Michael Blumenthal said in a statement.

The earnings increase came on a 9% rise in revenue to $1.34 billion and followed more than a year of sluggish performance.

"U.S. computer demand for our products and services improved over the lackluster levels experienced during the last five quarters," Blumenthal said.

First-half profits, however, were 8% lower than the year-ago period on sales that increased 3% from last year's level.

The company said its financial results would begin to reflect Burroughs' recent $4.8-billion merger with Sperry in the second half.

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