NORTH CANTON, Ohio (AP) ¿ ATM maker Diebold Inc. on Tuesday posted a third-quarter loss as it absorbed a big loss on the sale of its voting machine business. It also cut its full year profit and revenue forecast. But Diebold President and CEO Thomas W. Swidarski saw encouraging signs in the results, given the difficulties faced by its financial market customers. He said the company has been able to "significantly reduce operating expenses on a dollar basis while maintaining our investment" in developing products and services. "We believe this strategy will help strengthen our competitive position when our core markets return to growth," he said. Diebold shares fell $1.15, or 3.8 percent, to $28.80 in morning trading. Diebold reported a net loss of $7.2 million, or 11 cents per share, in the July-September period compared with a profit of $46.5 million, or 70 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding a $31.4 million loss on the sale of its Premier Election Solutions business and 2 cents-per-share in restructuring charges, mostly related to severance costs from downsizing its staff, adjusted earnings came in at 39 cents per share.
Sales fell 26 percent to $645 million from $869 million last year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, on average, expected profit of 41 cents per share, on revenue of $737.5 million. Analysts typically exclude one-time charges from their estimates. Total product and service orders dropped about 20 percent from the prior year. With new bank branch construction and retail store openings weak in the U.S., security orders fell about 20 percent. Global ATM orders also fell about that amount, with Europe, the Middle East and Africa slumping more than 40 percent. Diebold now expects profit for the year in a range between $1.34 and $1.39 per share, down from its prior range of $1.34 and $1.52 per share. Adjusted results are now expected to come in between $1.75 and $1.80 per share, trimming 10 cents off the upper end of the forecast. Analysts expect full-year adjusted profit of $1.80 per share, with estimates ranging from $1.73 to $1.90. It also trimmed its revenue guidance, and now expects a drop between 9 percent and 13 percent of 2008 revenue, down from the previous forecast for 7 percent to 13 percent decline. Based on 2008's reported revenue of $2.2 billion, the new guidance implies a range between $2.02 billion and $2.04 billion. Wall Street was expecting revenue of $2.86 billion, with estimates ranging from $2.83 billion to $2.69 billion.