Essex Corp. delivers slight gain in first period, helped by 1995 work; Government payment boosts revenue, trims losses in the quarter; Technology

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Essex Corp., a small, financially struggling technology company based in Columbia, reported a slight gain in first-quarter revenue yesterday, thanks primarily to the payment for work from a government contract completed five years ago.

For the three months ended March 26, Essex posted a net loss of $9,000, equal to zero cents a share, from revenue of $975,000.

In the corresponding quarter of 1999, the company posted a loss of $149,000, or 3 cents a share, on revenue of $966,000.

Without the payment of $148,000 from a cost-plus Department of Defense contract completed in 1995, first-quarter revenue would have been down 15 percent to $827,000, and the loss would have been $157,000, according to Joseph R. Kurry Jr., Essex's chief financial officer.

The company reported that work for Motorola, which involved creating software for the Iridium network of communication satellites, declined to about 8 percent of total revenue in the quarter just ended, compared to 72 percent of total revenue in the first quarter of 1999.

One of the company's bright spots is in the area of optoelectronics , a technology that can be used to detect underground utility power lines, pipes and water or cavities beneath roadways.

"While revenues from work in optoelectronics business area are gaining momentum, it will likely to be well into 2000 before our business volume recovers," said Harry Letaw, chairman and chief executive officer.

Letaw said the company is seeking investment partners to help develop optoelectronics equipment for commercial use and to bring it to market. Essex's stock closed at $1.3125 yesterday.

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