Novell earnings document difficult year

Novell earnings document difficult year

Novell recently reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings that show a slight increase in revenue over the last quarter, but reflect that the company struggled mightily this year.

The company posted revenue of $US273 million for the fourth quarter, up $3 million from last quarter, but down from $345 million for the same quarter a year ago.

For the fiscal year ending October 31, Novell had revenue of $1.16 billion, down $11 million from fiscal 1999. Net income of $49 million for the year was down sharply over last year's $191 million.

When factoring in a restructuring charge of $48 million, taken when the company laid off 16 per cent of its workforce last quarter, Novell had a diluted loss per share of 11 cents. Without considering the charge, earnings per share were breakeven, which is in line with analysts' estimates as reported by FirstCall.

"We have had a pretty difficult year," said Eric Schmidt, Novell chairman and chief executive officer. But Schmidt said the company is six months into a transformation from a packaged product company to a business and solutions company.

"We are getting lots of validation that our strategy is correct," said Schmidt. "In 2001, our aim is to improve Novell's overall business performance around growth in new Net services." Those Net services are directory-enabled applications Novell has developed, including DirXML and iChain.

Schmidt said he was not ready to make any announcements about spinning off Novell's Net Content division into a company called Volera, which was first reported by Network World. He did acknowledge that Novell is contemplating a spin-off of the business. "We are still analysing it internally and that analysis is favourable, but we continue to figure out how to structure it."

Despite Schmidt's assessment for the future, gains made with the transformation to a business and solutions company were not enough to offset dramatic declines in Novell's traditional packaged software business.

Novell's packaged software sales declined by $243 million, or 47 per cent. Those sales accounted for only 23 per cent of total revenue for fiscal 2000. Revenue from NetWare servers was down 7 per cent from the previous quarter, to $112 million. For the fiscal year, revenue for NetWare was down 24 per cent.

The company blamed part of that decline on the flurry of spending before the anticipated Year 2000 crisis last year.

Novell said the 12 per cent growth in its large network site-licence and OEM business during the year was not enough to offset the decline in packaged software. Revenue from large network site-licences and OEMs grew to $750 million, and accounted for 65 per cent of total revenue in fiscal 2000.

Novell took other steps last quarter to correct its slide by reorganising around new business groups and delivering DirXML and iChain.

Revenue in the fourth quarter from directory-enabled applications was up 15 per cent from last quarter to $90 million. For the year, revenue was up 4 per cent over 1999.

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