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Novatel Slumps After Dim Projection

Shares fall more than 20%.

Updated from 3:57 p.m. EDT

Shares of

Novatel Wireless


fell hard Tuesday, one day after the company slashed its first-quarter outlook.

The San Diego-based wireless-modem maker cut its revenue forecast late Monday to $91 million from its previous projection of $110 million. Novatel said that $10 million of that decline was due to a product delay by a "major European carrier customer."

Earnings in the first quarter should be in a range of 13 cents to 15 cents a share, with adjusted earnings falling in a range of 16 cents to 18 cents a share.

Wall Street is currently expecting Novatel to post first-quarter earnings of 22 cents a share on revenue of $110.5 million, according to Thomson First Call. Novatel, which is scheduled to report results on May 1 after the market closes, tumbled 22.5% to $7.76.

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Additionally, Novatel said its chairman, Peter Leparulo, will take over the position of chief executive, a post he held from January 2003 to November 2006. The company has been without an official CEO since Leparulo left the role.

Brad Weinert, who held only the position of president of the company, will keep that title. Novatel spokeswoman Julie Cunningham says the move was made in order to restore "a more traditional management structure."

In a statement, Leparulo said the company is "very disappointed" with its first-quarter results.

"We are between product launch cycles for our USB devices, and demand in the current environment has shifted toward lower-end products," he said. "We continue to see solid demand for our first-generation MCD3000 USB products selling into this market shift, and we expect our second-generation USB products to become the low end promotional offering as we introduce our third-generation products mid-year."

Following the change in its outlook, Novatel was downgraded by analysts at Oppenheimer and Morgan Joseph.


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tacked on 3 cents to $17.62.