Aether loses $42 million, or $1.02 per share, in 4Q


Aether Systems Inc., the Owings Mills wireless software developer that has been hurt by the slump in technology investment, recorded a wider operating loss, before charges, for the fourth quarter of $42.1 million, or $1.02 per diluted share.

That was more than the loss of 94 cents per share estimated by analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call.

It was also greater than the operating loss in the comparable period in 2000 of $35.2 million, or 90 cents per diluted share.

After charges totaling $76 million, the company reported a net loss of $118.5 million for the three months that ended Dec. 31, compared with $132.3 million for the fourth quarter in 2000.

Net loss for the year was $1.7 billion, or $40.89 per share, triple the loss of $362.7 million, or $9.99 a share, in 2000.

The company released its earnings after the stock market closed yesterday. Its shares closed down 16 cents to $6.11 on the Nasdaq exchange. The stock's 52-week high was $52.75 a year ago. Its low was $5.25 in October.

The company reported that it had nearly doubled revenue for the fiscal year, to $112.9 million in 2001 from $58.2 million in 2000. Revenue for the fourth quarter was down slightly, $25.2 million in fiscal 2001 compared with $25.8 million in 2000.

Operating expenses for the fourth quarter were $44.2 million, down from $57.3 million for the period a year earlier and down from $52.9 million in the third quarter of 2001. The company cut about 550 jobs during the year.

"Cash is the key differentiator," said David C. Reymann, the company's chief financial officer. "Aether is proving quarter after quarter that we know how to preserve our cash."

Aether ended the fiscal year with a reserve of $530 million and expects to have positive cash flow by the beginning of next year, Reymann said.

Aether has sought to cultivate business in trucking and "homeland security." It provided hand-held devices for law enforcement at Sunday's Super Bowl and at Boston's Logan airport to transmit and access crime records.

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