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Network storage systems maker

Network Appliance


sharply reduced its guidance for fourth-quarter sales and earnings after the close of trading Wednesday.

NetApp said that it now expects fourth-quarter sales to plunge 20% to 25% from the third quarter's $288.4 million. That puts the Sunnyvale, Calif., company's expected sales in the area of $212 million -- nearly $100 million short of what analysts polled by

Thomson Financial/First Call

were looking for.

Earnings per share will come in between 1 cent and 3 cents a share, the company said. That's well below the 10 cents a share analysts expected.

"The direction of the global economy remains uncertain, and as our current quarter progresses, we have experienced greater delays in customer orders than anticipated, requiring us to revise our outlook for the fourth-quarter fiscal year 2001," said CEO Dan Warmenhoven in a press release.

Earlier Wednesday, NetApp competitor



released disappointing preliminary first-quarter results and lowered its outlook for the remainder of 2001.