Symbol Buying RFID Outfit

Symbol Technologies ( SBL) agreed Tuesday to acquire closely held wireless tag producer Matrics of Bethesda, Md., for $230 million in cash.

Holtsville, N.Y.-based Symbol said Matrics is a leading maker of electronic product code-compliant radio frequency identification, or RFID, systems. Symbol said the deal would close in the third quarter and dilute 2004 earnings by 5 or 6 cents a share.

Wall Street analysts expect Symbol to earn 44 cents a share for the year on revenue of $1.75 billion.

Symbol has been leaning heavily on its RFID products in an effort to expand its lineup beyond handheld bar-code devices. Meanwhile, retailers including Wal-Mart ( WMT) have signaled their intention to move to RFID because of its inventory-control advantages.

"The acquisition of Matrics is a significant step in executing our plan to be a leader in RFID, and expands our offerings in the advanced data capture industry," said CEO William Nuti. "We believe that in order for RFID to be deployed successfully, it needs to be deployed as a system -- a system that allows customers to capture, move and manage critical information to and from the point of business activity."

Symbol said it plans to finance the deal with short-term borrowings under a new credit facility and expects to refinance the borrowings in a capital markets equity or equity-linked transaction later this year.

On Tuesday, Symbol slipped 12 cents to $13.86.

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