Unisys tops Wall Street expectations

Unisys tops Wall Street expectations

Despite worries related to the year 2000 problem hampering sales growth, Unisys yesterday posted fourth-quarter 1999 earnings that beat Wall Street expectations by a penny.

For the quarter that ended on December 31, Unisys reported earnings of $US144.4 million, or 46 cents a share, a 15 per cent increase over earnings of $135.7 million, or 40 cents a share, for the same period last year.

Eleven analysts polled by First Call predicted Unisys would earn 45 cents per share.

Revenue for the quarter was $1.96 billion, down 4.8 per cent from the $2.06 billion recorded in the same period last year.

Unfavourable currency exchange rates and year 2000 concerns that prompted customer spending "lockdowns" led to flat revenue figures for the quarter, Lawrence Weinbach, Unisys' chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

For 1999 as a whole, Unisys reported earnings of $510.7 million compared to $376.4 million in 1998, with diluted earnings per share of $1.59 compared to earnings per share of $1.01 per share in the year-ago quarter, an increase of 57 per cent. Revenue for the year was $7.54 billion, up 4.2 per cent from $7.24 billion in 1998.

Unisys expects revenue to grow 8 to 10 per cent in 2000, with flat returns in the first quarter and double-digit growth in the second half of the year, Brian Daly, a company spokesman, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

"We expect revenue to accelerate in the second half as people clear the Y2K logjam," Daly said. Growth is expected in outsourcing, sales of enterprise-class servers and in networking infrastructure, he added.

The company also plans to continue with debt reduction efforts which in 1999 saw the company retire all its preferred stock, paying off more than $106 million in annual dividends.

Unisys shares on the Nasdaq stock exchange closed yesterday at $29.40, down $1.30, or 4.3 per cent from the previous close.

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