ONI Pushes Toward RBOCs

ONI reported higher revenues, more customers, and wider losses for its fourth quarter and year-end results for fiscal 2001 (see ONI Posts Q4 '01 Results).

Pro forma revenues were $42.2 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2001, versus $30.2 million for the year-ago quarter.

ONI's pro forma net loss for the quarter was $23.6 million, or 17 cents a share, versus the loss of $11 million, or 9 cents a share, reported in the year-ago quarter. The loss reported was a penny better than a consensus of analysts' expectations, as surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call.

On the customer front, ONI showed progress on its migration to what the market now considers essential to stability and survival: regional Bell operating company (RBOC) accounts.

ONI says it has a new RBOC customer, though it isn't saying which it is. Such a win would give it better footing against incumbent competitors such as Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) (see Metro DWDM Game Heats Up).

The company added three new customers in the fourth quarter, bringing its total customer count to 30. "We have [our equipment in] a live RBOC network now carrying traffic," says ONI CEO Hugh Martin.

The company also announced today that it had finished the first phase in the long, expensive, Osmine certification process, a hurdle equipment vendors need to clear so their gear can be installed in the incumbent telephone networks.

The company took a charge of $9.7 million related to restructuring and special charges associated with layoffs and excess inventory and manufacturing capacity, as it had announced earlier.

Including one-time charges, ONI's actual loss for the quarter was $34.7 million, or 25 cents a share, compared with loss of $28.3 million, or 23 cents a share during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2000.

The company's cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities balance as of Dec. 31, 2001, was $678.8 million, down from $852 million it had as of Dec. 31, 2000. ONI spent $5.9 million in cash during the quarter.

For the fiscal year 2001, ONI reported an actual loss of $188.3 million, or $1.40 a share, versus the $136.9 million, or $1.22 a share, it lost in fiscal 2002.

Martin predicted ONI would land 12 to 15 new customers during the coming fiscal year. He added, however, that revenues for the next quarter will be flat to slightly down and that most of ONI's revenues for that quarter will come from its existing customers.

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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