Aspect Drops on Q1 Outlook

Aspect Communications (Nasdaq: ASPT)dropped US$1.88 to $6.44 in morning trading Wednesday after the company,which provides customer relationship portals, lowered its outlook for thefirst quarter ending March 31st.

Aspect said it now expects revenue of $110 million to $115 million for thequarter, down from a previous projection of $150 million to $153 million.The pro forma loss from operations, before amortization, stock-basedcompensation and restructuring charges, will total $37 million to $41million, the company said.

The company also said it expects a non-cash charge of about $16 million toresults for fiscal 2000, the result of a “valuation allowance” againstdeferred tax assets at year-end. Aspect said that the charge will be reflected inits annual report, which will be filed with the U.S. Securities and ExchangeCommission by April 2nd.

Aspect will “continue to aggressively manage costs and improve efficiency,”said chairman and chief executive officer Beatriz V. Infante.

“I amconfident that the investment we have made over the past year will besuccessful when the economy rebounds,” Infante said.

Aspect, based in San Jose, California, recently announced plans to lay off 160people, or 6 percent of its workforce, as part of a continuing plan to “optimizeoperations.” The company said the move would result in a charge of $4million to $6 million to results for the first quarter.

Like others in the information technology business, Aspect said that “challengingeconomic conditions” have spread from the United States to overseas markets,with customers delaying purchases until conditions improve.

Aspect provides what it calls customer relationship portals — contact serversthat allow businesses to manage customer contact transactions over wirelessand wired networks. The company said its services are used by 74 percent ofFortune 50 companies.

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