said its earnings fell in the fiscal fourth quarter, and the company offered cautious profit and revenue guidance for the first quarter.
The maker of image-processing computer systems reported fourth-quarter revenue of $44.5 million, an increase of 3.5% over $43 million in the prior year. Revenue from defense electronics was $32.5 million, representing 73% of the total.
Mercury earned $4.2 million, or 20 cents a share, for the quarter, down from $5.4 million, or 24 cents a share, last year.
The company's total backlog at the end of the quarter was $57.3 million, compared with $78.4 million at the beginning of the fiscal year. Of the current backlog, $50.2 million represents shipments scheduled over the next 12 months.
Mercury projected flat to modest revenue growth in fiscal 2004, forecasting a range of $180 million to $190 million, and earnings of 85 cents to 95 cents a share. In fiscal 2003, the company earned $1.03 on revenue of $180.2 milllion.
For the first quarter of fiscal 2004, Mercury expects revenue of $39 million to $42 million, which would lead to earnings of 13 cents to 17 cents a share.
Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were looking for a profit of 18 cents a share in the fourth quarter. Only one analyst provided an estimate for Mercury's first quarter -- earnings of 20 cents a share and revenue of $46 million. Two analysts offered full-year predictions, producing an average earnings estimate of 86 cents a share with a top line of $191.7 million.
Shares of Mercury were losing $1.27, or 6%, to $19.49 in recent trading.