Aspect Sinks on Job Cuts

Aspect Communications (Nasdaq: ASPT)dropped US$1.69 to $11.31 in trading Tuesday morning, as the customer relationshipmanagement company said it would cut its workforce by 160 people, or 6percent.

San Jose, California-based Aspect said that the move — part of a”continuing effort to optimize operations” — would result in a charge of $4million to $6 million to results for the first quarter ending in March.

“Aspect is very focused on improving the efficiency of our business andreturning to profitability, and these actions are necessary to achieve theseobjectives,” said chief executive officer Beatriz V. Infante.

“I remain confident in our overall business direction and strong customerdemand for our products,” Infante said. “However, our near-term visibility is being affected as the economic climate continues to deteriorate. We are now halfway through thequarter, and we are beginning to see evidence that the timing of ourcustomers’ purchase decisions is being impacted by the economic slowdown.”

Infante said it is “difficult at this time to quantify” what effect theslowdown will have on first-quarter results. In the fourth quarter endedDecember 31st, Aspect reported pro forma revenue of $158.4 million, up from$146.9 million a year earlier. The company posted a loss beforeextraordinary items of $2.2 million, or 4 cents per share.

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

Infante became chairman earlier this month, succeeding company founder JamesCarreker, who is retiring.

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