Software slump hurts Novell

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Novell last week posted quarterly earnings that showed a widening net loss, thanks in large part to software sales that were down 25 percent from last year.

Novell last week posted quarterly earnings that showed a widening net loss, thanks in large part to software sales that were down 25 percent from last year.

For the fourth quarter ended October 31, Novell reported a net loss of US$109 million, or US29 cents per share, compared with US$91.7 million, or 25 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue fell to US$286.7 million from US$300.3 million.

Software revenue fell 25 percent to $70.5 million, down from US$94.3 million a year ago, while maintenance and services revenue rose 5 percent, to US$216.2 million from US$206 million.

Novell has made two high-profile acquisitions in recent months to stem the losses and bring in new software revenue.

In August, it bought Ximian, a maker of desktop and server software for Linux systems.
Shortly after the close of the quarter, Novell agreed to acquire SuSE Linux, a supplier of Linux software and services.

For the full fiscal year, Novell posted a net loss of US$162 million, or US44 cents per share, on revenue of US$1.1 billion. That's an improvement from 2002's net loss of US$247 million, or US68 cents per hare, also on revenue of US$1.1 billon.

Novell's Asia-Pacific operation attempted to play down the losses, putting a positive spin on a poor quarter for the software maker. Rhonda O'Donnell, president, Novell Asia-Pacific, claimed that 'record growth' in the final quarter concluded a year of strong growth in the region.

'Asia-Pacific revenue has seen continued year-on-year growth, with a full increase of nine percent in 2003 over the previous year, O'Donnell claimed. 'A new final quarter record was achieved, showing an eight percent increase in comparison to the same period last year.'

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