Details Scarce as Sun Stonewalls on Outlook
Updated from 4:20 p.m. EDT:
It was six months ago that tech execs first started complaining that they were having difficulty predicting their future results. Now, half a year later, they're no longer even trying.
Unix systems maker Sun Microsystems (SUNW) reported fiscal fourth-quarter results Thursday evening. Sales totaled $4 billion. Earnings per share came in at 4 cents. We know both figures are well below year-ago levels. We know they each were slightly above drastically lowered expectations.
But that's pretty much where everyone's knowledge ends. Following what seems to be a nascent trend on Wall Street, Sun's management team refused to give even the vaguest guidance for its fiscal first quarter on the conference call held after the company's earnings release. CFO Mike Lehman said told analysts that a revenue range would be supplied at the company's mid-quarter update in August. In the meantime, the best that Lehman could do was say that given the current expense structure, the Sun would break even if its sales totaled $3.7 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2002.EMC (EMC) declined to give guidance when it reported its results on Tuesday. Nortel (NT) did the same on its earnings conference call Thursday evening.
Sales, earnings ebbing through 2001
The Emptiness of LanguageBut CEO Scott McNealy headed off any attempts to read anything meaningful into that prognosis. "Sun is out of the business of predicting macroeconomic direction for any part of the economy," he said. "We're not going to give you any color. We're just wasting our time and your time." Despite the stonewall on guidance, Sun's management team projected their characteristic confidence on the call. Sun was still gaining market share. And it planned to keep gaining share, said President Ed Zander, who noted the company would go after Compaq (CPQ) and Hewlett-Packard (HWP), whose embracing of an
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