Sales at Altera ( ALTR) jumped 14% sequentially, topping the Street's expectations and the company's own guidance. The programmable-logic chipmaker did not release its earnings or a detailed quarterly update Monday because it is still reviewing its accounting for past stock-options grants. The company is one of several dozen that have been caught up in the stock options backdating scandal. Still, investors cheered the good news on the sales front. In recent after-hours exchanges, Altera's stock was up $1.07, or 6.6%, to $17.40. In the second quarter, Altera posted $334.1 million in sales. That was up from sales of $292.8 million in the
first quarter and from $285.5 million in the year-ago period. Analysts had predicted that the company would post sales of $318.1 million in the quarter, according to Thomson First Call. In May, the company reaffirmed its prior guidance that sales for the quarter would range from $313.4 million to $322 million. The company's newer products led the way, with sales rising 50% from the first quarter and 139% from the second quarter a year earlier to $56.8 million. Altera did not update its guidance on expenses or its bottom line. In its midquarter update, the company had warned that sales, general and administrative expenses would be several million dollars higher than the $74 million the company had previously expected, because of its internal options probe. Analysts have predicted that the company would post a profit of 21 cents a share in the quarter. In the same period last year, Altera earned $67.6 million, or 18 cents a share. Looking forward, the company expects to post sales of between $334 million and $344 million in the third quarter. The company did not give any outlook on expenses or its bottom line. Analysts had predicted that the company would earn 24 cents a share in the period on sales of $326.1 million. In the third quarter last year, Altera earned $77.8 million, or 21 cents a share, on $291.5 million in sales.
Altera is in the process of reviewing its stock options grants for examples of backdating. Backdating is the practice of giving employees options to buy company stock at a short-term low price point that was known after the fact. Although the practice itself may be perfectly legal, regulatory authorities, shareholder advocates and
plaintiff attorneys are examining about whether companies properly accounted for the backdated options and disclosed them to investors. As a result of its own probe, Altera has not filed its first-quarter report with the Securities and Exchange Commission and runs the risk of being de-listed by the Nasdaq national market. The company warned Monday that it also does not expect to file its report for the second quarter with the SEC within the required time frame. Shares of Altera closed regular trading up 57 cents, or 3.6%, to $16.33.