TriQuint ( TQNT), a leading supplier of chips for cell phones and other products, said in a conference call that it would take a raft of charges for the quarter that's under way. That's likely to cause a loss of up to 7 cents a share according to generally accepted accounting principles. In another move likely to unnerve investors, management dodged repeated requests from analysts to elaborate on the fourth-quarter outlook. At the same time, the company affirmed the sales and pro forma earnings forecast it made last month. It has said it expects earnings to be flat to down 2 cents, with revenue of $69 million to $74 million. In after-hours trading, the stock moved slightly, changing hands at $5.50. It closed today at $5.45, losing 33 cents, or 5.7%. TriQuint effectively signaled it would whittle its profit outlook earlier today, when it said earnings would drop by a penny due to layoff-related expenses. The company simultaneously
announced it will cut 7% of its workforce, or 112 employees, due to sluggish telecommunications spending and the manufacturing conversion to six-inch wafers, which mean less labor is needed to produce an equal amount of goods. Those actions are expected to reduce annual costs by $6.2 million on a pretax basis, with benefits kicking in in the fourth quarter. TriQuint said it's looking at other ways to cut costs to improve profitability. On the conference call, management also said it would take third-quarter charges of about $1 million for severance costs, $10 million for a write-off related to in-process research and development at businesses it recently acquired from IBM ( IBM)and Infineon ( IFX), and $5 million to write down two equity investments in optical networking. The company said it's reviewing manufacturing assets in Oregon and Texas for possible further writedowns. It also said it would record a gain of about $3.7 million related to the retirement of convertible bonds. On the call, TriQuint executives sought to draw attention to the company's markets outside wireless. "Many people seem to think of us as only a wireless mobile phone supplier," said Chairman Steven Sharp. "But while that's the largest single part of our business, almost 60% of revenues are from other areas." He cited the defense market, which is expected to account for 22% of revenue this year, as "very steady and more predictable, with long-term product cycles." TriQuint's products are used in the F-22 and Joint Strike Fighter weapons, he said. For the most recent quarter ending in June, TriQuint's sales were down 23% from year-ago levels, to $61 million. The company chalked up the poor showing to the steep slowdown in demand for optical networking components and weakness in demand for wireless phone chips. In the second quarter, those two markets accounted for 8% and 40% of revenue, respectively. More recently, its wireless bookings appear to have picked up, as the company had predicted in its July earnings call. Merrill Lynch analyst Christopher Danely says it's seen stronger-than-expected bookings from Nokia ( NOK)and steady order rates from Motorola ( MOT)and Samsung. But he said in a research note that he was nonetheless "cautious on the near-term outlook of wireless component companies due to weak end demand." For that matter, any relative strength in wireless has been offset by continuing deterioration in the optical market, Danely added. Just today, Nortel ( NT), one of TriQuint's biggest customers, warned its third-quarter revenues would fall 10% sequentially and said it would lay off 7,000 employees. "Customers such as Nortel and Lucent continue to struggle," said Sharp. "But we believe there is key growth over the long term in the analog technology areas."