IN THE PAPERS
In The Papers 26 January
Eircom agrees to wholesale line fee cut | Apple posts 50 percent rise in profit
The Irish Times reports that Eircom has ended a long-running dispute with ComReg by agreeing to slash the monthly charge to competitors for supplying broadband over its phone lines. Under the terms of a settlement, the monthly charge to other operators who wish to access Eircom lines will fall from EUR8.41 to EUR0.77. Eircom had mounted a High Court challenge to an August 2009 direction from ComReg to introduce the price cut. In a statement ComReg said the "proceedings were settled" but did not provide any details of the settlement.
The Irish Independent says that Apple posted a 50 percent rise in first-quarter profit, on the back of healthy sales of the iPhone and Macintosh. Net income rose to USD3.38 billion, or USD3.67 a share, from USD2.26 billion, or USD2.50 per share, a year earlier. Sales grew to USD15.7 billion. Apple said it sold 8.7 million iPhones and 3.36 million Macs in the quarter. Apple predicted that sales this quarter will be USD11 billion to USD11.4 billion and profit will be between USD2.06 and USD2.18 a share.
According to the Wall Street Journal, chipmaker Texas Instruments' fourth-quarter profit surged on stronger sales and higher margins. Results were boosted by a 27 percent rise in sales of analogue chips, which are used in everything from mobile phones to manufacturing equipment. TI posted a profit of USD655 million, or USD0.52 a share for the quarter, up from USD107 million, or USD0.08 a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 21 percent to USD3.01 billion. For the current quarter, TI expects per-share earnings of USD0.44 to USD0.52 on revenue of USD2.95 billion to USD3.19 billion.
The paper also says that Asian makers of liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are forecasting a better 2010 amid improving demand and tight supplies. The rollout of new display technologies for televisions, electronic book readers and touch-screen mobile devices is expected to lead to strong growth for the flat-panel industry this year, helping to offset any potential increase in supply from new production lines, according to market analysts. Research firm DisplaySearch expects industry revenue to rise 6 percent this year to USD86 billion from USD81 billion in 2009.
The same paper notes that VMware's fourth-quarter profit dipped 49 percent as higher research and development costs weighed on operating margins. VMware, which is majority-owned by EMC, posted a profit of USD56.4 million, or USD0.14 a share, down from USD111.5 million, or USD0.29 a share, a year earlier. Excluding stock-based compensation and other items, per-share earnings fell to USD0.31 from USD0.36. Revenue grew by 18 percent to USD608.2 million, however. VMware projected revenue of USD580 million to USD600 million for the current quarter.
The Financial Times reports that accountancy software group Sage says it has continued to pay down debt at a rapid rate, encouraging speculation that the company could soon resume making acquisitions. The group said net debt had fallen from STG439 million to STG392 million in the three months to 31 December. Sage put itself deeply in debt in 2006 when it spent STG617.5 million on a series of acquisitions including Verus and Emdeon.
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