Carrier Access Stumbles in Q4

Delays to FTTH and federal orders and the continuing hiatus in wireless capex outlay meant Carrier Access Corp. (Nasdaq: CACS) had a tougher than expected fourth quarter, the company revealed late Thursday evening.

Not only did the company lose its CFO in November, but sales were weaker than expected (see Carrier Access CFO Quits and Carrier Access Unveils Q4 Prelims).

Analysts had been expecting revenues of $22.65 million and a loss per share of 1 cent, but the vendor says it expects to report revenues of between $20.2 million and $20.5 million, and a loss per share of between 3 and 5 cents when it unveils its full fourth quarter report after the markets close on January 25.

The company, which supplies wireless and fixed access (including PON) equipment to carriers, and VOIP systems to enterprise and service provider customers, has been suffering from a downturn in wireless spending for some months caused by carrier consolidation (see Carrier Access Posts Q3 Loss and Nextel-Sprint: Winners & Losers). But it had expected fourth quarter revenues to increase on a quarter-on-quarter basis (see Carrier Access Revises Outlook).

Now, though, the vendor has hit some speed bumps in its FTTH and business user sales, and revenues are continuing their downwards trend (see table below).

Table 1: Carrier Access Revenues and EPS, 2004
Q1 2004 Q2 2004 Q3 2004 Q4 2004 estimates
Revenues (in millions) $28.5 $30.8 $21.6 $20.2 to $20.5
Earnings/loss per share 9 cents 10 cents (11 cents) (3 to 5 cents)

In the press release issued late Thursday evening, CEO Roger Koenig said revenues from federal and FTTP business were delayed. He expects the government order to complete in the first quarter of this year, but added that "we are working with our OEM customer for rescheduled contractual delivery of our FTTP product."

That OEM customer is Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), which is the lead contractor for SBC Communications Inc.'s (NYSE: SBC) access network upgrade project (see Mais Alors! Alcatel Bags $1.7B SBC Deal ).

As ever, Koenig is hopeful of a revenue ramp in the coming year. "We continue to believe that we are well positioned in our business and wireless access markets and will benefit in these areas as demand for broadband services continues to grow and as wireless budgets are released," he said in the company's statement.

The vendor's share price fell 15 cents, just less than 2 percent, during Thursday to $9.22, and lost two more cents in after-hours trading. But given that the vendor didn't release its news until after 9pm Eastern, the stock can expect a bumpy ride when the markets open today.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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