3 Computer Makers Enjoy Strong Quarter

Apple Computer and Digital Equipment Corp. reported improved earnings for the latest quarter.

Apple Computer said its earnings rose 6% in the second quarter ended March 27, to $33.9 million from $31.8 million a year earlier, even though the personal computer maker's revenue increased 41% to $575.3 million from $408.9 million.

Apple's profit, which some analysts said exceeded their earlier expectations of flat or lower earnings for the company, was affected by its costs to introduce the Macintosh SE and Macintosh II personal computers.

The Cupertino, Calif., company said marketing and distribution costs climbed 31% to $150.3 million. Research and development costs in the quarter rose 43% to $45 million.

In addition, the company said its gross margin--the difference between sales and the cost of goods sold--fell to 50% of sales in the quarter, compared to an unusually high 57% in the year-earlier period.

For the six months, Apple's net income rose 4% to $92.3 million on a 31% increase in revenue

DEC's profit for the third quarter ended March 28 shot up 81% to $307.6 million, from $170.3 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 25% to $2.41 billion from $1.93 billion a year earlier.

For the first nine months of its fiscal year, DEC earned $760.2 million, double what it earned a year earlier, while revenue rose 24% to $6.72 billion.

Digital, based in Maynard, Mass., profited by continuing to steal business away from IBM and other computer makers with its VAX line of mid-size computers, analysts said.

Separately, Tandon Corp., a Chatsworth-based maker of IBM-compatible personal computers and disk drives, said its earnings increased 164% to $5.1 million in the second quarter ended March 29 from $1.9 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 38% to $80.4 million from $58.2 million.

Tandon said that sales of both its computers and disk drives were strong and that profit margins were improved. Personal computers accounted for 65% of sales, the company said, with disk drives making up the rest.

For the six months, Tandon's earnings increased 120% to $6.1 million on a 48% increase in revenue.

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