Earnings Reports for Aug. 17

Agilent Increases Growth Forecasts

Agilent Technologies, spun off from Hewlett-Packard earlier this year, reported higher third-quarter earnings and sales today. It also increased its forecasts for sales growth next year.

The maker of test and measurement equipment earned $155 million, or 34 cents per share, or 33 cents per share on an unaudited pro forma basis. In the year-ago period, before it went public, it earned $135 million.

The earnings surpassed the forecasts of most analysts, who expected 20 cents per share.

Revenues increased to $2.67 billion from $2.09 billion last year.

Agilent also said it was increasing its forecasts for 2001, and now expects revenue growth of “at least” 20 percent, compared with an earlier forecast of 15 percent. It sees 2001 net earnings approaching 8 percent of net revenue.

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Fiber Optics Fuel CIENA’s Profits Telecommunications equipment maker CIENA posted better-than-expected third-quarter profits today as its customer base expanded and demand for fiber-optic networking products soared.

CIENA earned $28.2 million, or 19 cents a share, in its third fiscal quarter ending July 31, compared with a loss of $5.6 million, or 4 cents a share a year ago.

The results beat Wall Street expectations of 17 cents a share, according to research firm First Call/Thomson Financial, which tracks analysts’ expectations. Ciena’s revenues rose 80 percent to $233.3 million, compared with $128.8 million a year ago.

CIENA makes equipment that boosts the capacity of fiber-optic networks and products that direct traffic along communications networks. Sales of industry-leading optical networking products contributed to revenue growth and the company said it expects continued robust sales of its long-distance optical transport products.

Shares of CIENA have jumped about 200 percent so far this year. The company on Tuesday announced a two-for-one stock split.

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Seagram Reports Narrow Loss

Entertainment giant, Seagram, riding a revenue boost from its music unit as well as box-office hits Erin Brockovich and Gladiator, reported a fourth-quarter net loss today that was less than Wall Street had expected.

The company, which is in the process of merging with French utilities group Vivendi, said its net loss widened to $128 million or 29 cents per share compared with $53 million or 32 cents, excluding an additional gain on the 1998 USA Networks transactions. Including this gain, the company posted a net loss of $53 million or 13 cents per share last year. But Wall Street analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial had called on average for a fourth-quarter loss of 35 cents per share this year.

The Montreal-based company that owns Universal Studios and Universal Music Group, said revenues rose to $3.7 billion in the quarter from $3.5 billion a year ago and said music division earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) surged 56 percent to $217 million in the quarter. Universal Music Group’s EBITDA for the year exceeded $1 billion for the first time, the company said.

The movie sector returned to profitability, earning $5 million of EBITDA this quarter compared with last year’s EBITDA loss of $69 million. The improved performance was due to the theatrical success of the Julia Roberts film Erin Brockovich, as well as Gladiator and the submarine thriller U-571.

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