Economic warnings mount for Europe

Nortel, the communications networking company, unveiled a net loss of $19.4bn (Pounds 13.58bn) for the second quarter.

The company has already sacked 23,000 employees and another 7,000 are set to go in the next two months. Yesterday Nortel CEO John Roth warned a slowdown in telecom spending was spreading to Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Another big name, computer server manufacture Sun Microsystems, saw its year-on-year sales fall by $1bn (Pounds 700m). The company made a net loss of $88m (Pounds 61m) compared with profits of $717m (Pounds 502m) in 2000. Sun CFO Michael Lehman issued a warning too: ‘Europe is weak and I expected it to weaken further.’

Personal computer manufacturer Gateway blamed its second quarter loss of $20.8m (Pounds 14m) on a ‘challenging market environment’ with a 46% collapse in European sales helping to put the company in the red.

And while Microsoft still projected earnings to top the $29bn (Pounds 20.3bn)mark next year, it told analysts to lower earnings expectations for next fiscal quarter.

Analysts should expect earnings per share of around 40 cents, compared with earlier projections of 45 cents, the Redmond giant said.

Adding to the gloom IBM dashed any hopes that the hi-tech downturn was ending by saying that it expects business in the next few months to deteriorate.

The company blamed broader economic factors, saying its chip-making business would fall off dramatically making it more difficult to offset the effects the strong dollar will have on profits.

Already, European companies are feeling the effects of recessionary tremors. Today Swedish mobile phone maker Ericsson announced a loss of almost Pounds 1.4bn after European rival Nokia reported a 20% quarter-on-quarter drop in profits yesterday.

Closer to home, the Marconi fiasco has dominated business pages, with Pounds 3bn knocked off the value of the telecom after the share price plummeted on the back of profit warnings.


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