Informix ended its 1997 fiscal year by reporting a 12-month loss,el for database supplier. Stuart Lauchlan reports. although a fourth quarter return to profit suggested efforts to turn around the beleaguered database company may finally be working.
The Q4 profit - the first since 1995 - took Wall Street by surprise, particularly in the wake of recent disappointing performance from rivals Oracle and Sybase. Analysts had expected a loss of about 16 cents a share, but Informix reported a profit of five cents a share, largely a result of a cost-cutting exercise instigated in mid-1997.
The last minute return to profitability took some of the sting out of an otherwise grim set of results which saw a full-year loss of $357.3 million and sales of $662.3 million. Profit for Q4 ended 31 December 1997 was $9.2 million against a loss of $7 million for the same quarter last year. But sales were $181.2 million, down from $216.8 million a year earlier.
Europe returned a 47 per cent rise in Q4, although Informix UK MD Alan Kerr conceded that some of this was due to pent-up demand from Q3. The domestic US operation saw six per cent growth, while the Asia Pacific operation saw growth of about five per cent.
During 1997, Informix was torn apart by revelations about inaccurate financial reports and a sharp decline in sales when the company backed technology that had no immediate mass market appeal.
Informix CEO Phil White resigned, as did other Informix managers including worldwide sales boss Ken Coulter, after CEO Bob Finocchio was brought in to salvage the company.
Several ex-management staff are under investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
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