, a maker of security systems, lowered its fourth-quarter outlook Tuesday, in order to reflect rising costs and weaker-than-expected volume. It's the company's second profit warning in three months.

The Hanover, Md.-based company said it expects to post a net profit of 24 cents a share, down slightly from the 25 cents it earned in the same period last year. Wall Street analysts, on average, were projecting the company would earn 28 cents a share, according to a poll conducted by Thomson Financial/First Call. Back in October, CompuDyne pared its 2002 estimates to 45 cents a share, a far cry from the previously forecasted range of 60 cents to 65 cents a share.

The company attributed the earnings shortfall to cost overruns at its West Coast corrections operations, lower-than-expected volume at its attack protection unit and contract delays at its public safety unit. "Although we are very disappointed in the performance in the three segments identified, our business is sound, the demand environment continues to be strong, margins are healthy and our financial condition is solid," said Martin Roenigk, the company's chairman and chief executive, in a prepared statement. The company also said that it expects demand to be "strong" in 2003, helped by the formation of the Homeland Security Department by President Bush.

The shares were down $1.45, or nearly 20%, at $5.83 in recent trading on Nasdaq. Heading into today's session, the stock was down more than 58% since hitting a 52-week high of $17.87 back in late June.