Microsoft CFO Calls 3Q Estimates '2 to 3 Cents Too Light'

But Mister Softee voices its usual caution on the overall outlook. Plus, results from Computer Associates, GTE, Western Digital and more.
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Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

CFO Greg Maffei told investors and analysts in a conference call that Wall Street's consensus estimate for the third quarter is probably "2 to 3 cents light," but he remained cautious on the software giant's outlook.

Maffei said uncertainties linked to economies worldwide and Year 2000 spending could have a dampening impact on the company's earnings. He added that Microsoft faces tough comparisons from year-ago figures in the third quarter. The 21-analyst

First Call

estimate calls for 60 cents vs. the year-ago 50 cents.

"The consensus is probably 2 to 3 cents light, but ... there are many risks ahead and many factors that could affect that

forecast and make it difficult or impossible to achieve," he said. "With the maturity of key products, economic challenges and the lockdown on desktops and Y2K spending, it seems unlikely that fiscal year 1999 will match fiscal year 1998 growth rates."

Microsoft also announced it earned 73 cents a share in the second quarter ended Dec. 31 from net income of $1.98 billion. The 23-analyst outlook called for 59 cents compared with 42 cents a year ago. Total revenue also rose 38% to $4.94 billion from $3.59 billion in the same quarter last year.

Microsoft shares were bid at 163 in after-hours trading on

Instinet

in heavy volume, according to Brent Houston at

Mr. Stock.com

. That is up from the day's close of 155 5/8. (

TheStreet.com

called for an earnings blowout from Mister Softee in a

piece this morning.)

--

Medora Lee

Computer Associates

(CA) - Get Report

reported third-quarter earnings of 64 cents a share, 3 cents ahead of the 23-analyst prediction and above the year-ago 60 cents. The stock was up at 48 1/2 from a close of 47 13/16 in after-hours trading.

In other postclose news (earnings estimates from First Call; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified):

Earnings/revenue reports and previews

Compass

(CMPS) - Get Report

said it sees fourth-quarter earnings coming in "significantly" below estimates due to the cost of integration and consolidation of 14 companies into three operating divisions and a lower margin mix of business in its print and mail division. The company also said it hired

Lehman Brothers

for advice on strategic alternatives. The two-analyst estimate called for 18 cents a share.

Exide

(EX)

said it sees a third-quarter loss of $1.75 to $1.90 a share after a string of charges. The four-analyst forecast called for earnings of 84 cents vs. the year-ago $1.05.

GTE

(GTE) - Get Report

affirmed its 1999 earnings growth target of 13% to 15%. The 19-analyst forecast calls for 1998 earnings of $3.06 and a 17-analyst outlook calls for $3.49 in 1999.

In a conference call, a

Parker Hannifin

(PH) - Get Report

official said the 15-analyst fiscal 1999 estimate of $2.82 a share vs. 1998's $2.97 "would be in the realm of possibility." The company

earlier reported second-quarter earnings that beat estimates but fell short of the year-ago figure.

Citing efforts to move to higher-margin products and an initial turnaround in its underperforming regions,

Ikon Office Solutions

(IKON)

said it expects to report first-quarter earnings of 12 cents to 15 cents a share. The six-analyst projection called for 5 cents vs. the year-earlier 33 cents.

Juno Lighting

(JUNO)

reported fourth-quarter earnings of 37 cents a share, a penny short of the two-analyst outlook but up from the year-ago 29 cents. The company named Glenn Bordfeld to the vacant positions of president and chief operating officer.

Minerals Technologies

(MTX) - Get Report

posted fourth-quarter earnings of 64 cents a share, a penny ahead of the seven-analyst outlook and above the year-ago 59 cents. The company said it will be difficult to match 1998's 15% earnings growth this year because of an uncertain global economic outlook, especially in the steel and paper industries.

Newfield Exploration

(NFX)

said it plans to record a $68 million fourth-quarter charge due to an anticipated reduction in the carrying value of its oil and gas properties.

Range Resources

(RRC) - Get Report

said it will lay off 27% of its "non-field" workforce and take a pre-tax charge of $3.1 million in the fourth quarter as part of its ongoing adjustment to low oil prices.

Tekelec

(TKLC)

said it plans to cut 25% of its 550 jobs, taking a $2 million restructuring charge in the first quarter. The five-analyst estimate calls for first-quarter operating earnings of 14 cents a share vs. the year-ago 10 cents.

Versant

(VSNT)

forecast a loss of between 55 cents and 61 cents per share in the fourth quarter, well in excess of the three-analyst consensus of a loss of 13 cents. The expected loss is before restructuring and other charges the company expects to take to pay for job cuts.

Western Digital

(WDC) - Get Report

reported a second-quarter loss of 93 cents a share, 6 cents better than the 13-analyst view but down from the year-ago operating profit of 3 cents. The company announced plans to cut 750 jobs, or 5.8% of its workforce, and will take other cost-cutting steps.

Xilinx

(XLNX) - Get Report

reported third-quarter earnings of 46 cents a share, 6 cents ahead of both the 23-analyst forecast and the year-ago figure. The company also set a 2-for-1 stock split.

Additional postclose earnings reports are compiled in a separate table

.

Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures

Newport News Shipbuilding

(NNS)

agreed to acquire

Avondale Industries

(AVDL) - Get Report

in a stock swap valued at about $470 million.

SmarTalk TeleServices

(SMTK)

agreed to sell most of its assets to

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

for $192.5 million. SmarTalk said it has begun Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in Delaware court.

TheStreet.com

has reported on the telecom firm's troubles in a series of critical

articles in the past year.

Miscellany

Brazil's rogue state of Minas Gerais, which helped to spur the recent de facto devaluation of the real by declaring a debt moratorium, won an injunction against the government seizing its funds in retaliation.

Mutual-fund giant

Fidelity Investments

said its

(FMAGX) - Get Report

Magellan fund cut

Philip Morris

(MO) - Get Report

from its top 10 holdings in the fourth quarter, replacing it with

America Online

(AOL)

. AOL is now Magellan's third-largest holding, according to Fidelity's year-end mutual fund guide.

Citizens Banking

(CBCF)

gave president and CEO Robert Vitito the additional post of chairman, replacing Charles Weeks. Weeks will remain a director of the firm.

Esterline Technologies

(ESL)

named President Robert Cremin to the additional post of chief executive.

Connecticut regulators tentatively ordered

Northeast Utilities

(NU)

subsidiary

Connecticut Light & Power

to cut its electricity rates by 4%, beginning Feb. 5.