Western Digital Expects to Report Earnings Decline

Western Digital said Wednesday that it expects to post its first quarterly earnings decline in more than two years and that its earnings for the latest quarter will be well below Wall Street estimates.

But the Irvine-based computer products company said it expects to post record revenues of between $155 million and $160 million for its fiscal second quarter ended Dec. 26. It expects to report final results in about two weeks.

In American Stock Exchange trading Wednesday, Western Digital closed unchanged at $16.75. The announcement came after the market's close in New York.

Western Digital said it anticipates second quarter per-share earnings in the high 20- to low 30-cent range. Wall Street analysts' estimates generally have ranged between 35 and 45 cents per share.

Chairman Roger W. Johnson said the earnings decline is "related to several factors that the company believes are temporary in nature." Among those factors are increased research and development expenditures, strong demand for several products with relatively low profit margins and stiff price competition in certain markets.

"The company is in very good shape, and our order rates are strong," Johnson said.

The Western Digital chairman said he is "not uncomfortable" with current Wall Street forecasts of fiscal 1988 per-share earnings of between $1.70 and $2.

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