AST's 1st-Quarter Revenue Decreases 'Significantly'


AST Research Inc., continuing to lose market share as it struggles with more red ink, said Friday that its revenue for the fiscal first quarter will be "significantly below" the $495 million in sales it recorded for last year's first quarter.

The news sent Wall Street speculating on how big an earnings hit the computer maker will take for the three-month period that ended Sept. 30. The company previously said it expects to lose "significantly" more than the $40 million it lost during the same quarter last year.

"Obviously, this is not good news for the company," said Todd D. Bakar, an analyst at Hambrecht & Quist brokerage in San Francisco. "With revenue coming in even lower than expected, you've got to wonder just how much more than $40 million the company is going to lose."

The company plans to release complete quarterly results early next month.

Safi U. Qureshey, AST's chairman, said in a prepared statement that the first quarter's performance was hurt by "disappointing" consumer retail sales in the United States. He said the company is "stepping up" its efforts with new investor Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. in South Korea to grab back the market share it has lost. AST had gone from the nation's fifth-largest computer maker last year to seventh-largest this year.

Won Suk Yang, a Samsung executive who also is an AST director, said in the statement that he and his superiors "support and commend" the company's efforts to turn itself around.

AST's stock, which had traded at $18 a share before its losses started to pile up a year ago, closed Friday at $9 a share, down 62.5 cents a share from Thursday's close on the Nasdaq market system.

In an upheaval for the past month as top executives left or were pushed out, AST also said Friday that it received a commitment from a BankAmerica Corp. subsidiary for a $100-million revolving line of credit. Proceeds will be used for product development, marketing and other activities.

One of the ousted executives, former AST President James T. Schraith, has been hired as president and chief executive of Cerplex Group, the Tustin company said Friday. Schraith also became a director of Cerplex, an electronics parts repair company.

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