Despite record sales that nearly doubled from...

Despite record sales that nearly doubled from year-ago levels, Irvine-based AST Research reported Tuesday that its earnings fell 46% in its latest quarter. The computer equipment manufacturer recorded net income for its fiscal 1988 second quarter of $2 million, down from $3.7 million a year earlier. AST's earnings, however, did represent a modest improvement after a weak first quarter in which the firm earned only $72,000. Sales for the quarter ended last December jumped 97% to $92.6 million from $47.1 million a year earlier.

AST's sales have soared this year because of the success of the company's IBM-compatible personal computers--a market the company entered a little more than a year ago. The company said it sold nearly $150 million of personal computers during its first year in the market. For its latest six months, AST's sales have climbed 96% to $171.2 million. But earnings have plunged 69% to $2 million, from $6.8 million in the comparable year-earlier period.

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