After a trying year, Micros Systems Inc. announced yesterday a return to profitability for the third quarter of 2001 - albeit a small one.
The Columbia-based maker of point-of-sale systems earned $69,000 on revenue of $81.1 million.
That was much poorer than a year ago when the company earned $10.2 million on revenue of $92 million, but better than the series of losses that began a year ago as corporations slowed their spending on new cash register-type systems.
"Business is very soft. It's not the way it was in 1999," Tom Giannopoulos, Micros' president and chief executive officer, told stock analysts and investors in a conference call.
The company offered guidance for revenue for the coming year of $350 million to $360 million with an 8 percent profit, less than previous estimates and including about $45 million from recent acquisitions of other companies.
Micros' stock closed down 90 cents to $18.41 a share on the Nasdaq stock market. The stock traded as high as $75 at the end of 1999.
Net income per basic and diluted common share was flat, compared with gains of 60 cents per basic share and 56 cents per diluted share in the same quarter a year ago.
"The results were below my expectations," said Matthew Kempler, an analyst with Sidoti & Co. in New York. "The business has definitely hit upon hard times."
Giannopoulos pointed out that the company has struggled to return to its 14.5 percent profit margin of two years ago that produced revenue of $335 million.
"If I do 8 percent in 2002, I can do 14 percent in 2003," he said. "You can't do it in one step."
Company earnings hit a wall about a year ago. Micros reported a fourth-quarter 2000 loss of $7.7 million last June, then losses of $900,000 for the first quarter of 2001 in September, and of $964,000 for the second quarter of 2001 in December, said Peter J. Rogers, Micros' vice president of investor relations.
Micros cut about 230 positions, half from layoffs and half from attrition, Rogers said.
"The rigorous cost-reduction program we implemented has helped us achieve profitability during this slowdown," Giannopoulos said in a statement.
Micros added several large customers in the quarter, including Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc., Starhotels S.p.A. of Florence, Italy, AMF Bowling Inc., El Toritos restaurants and Dallas-based La Quinta Inns Inc.
The company also hopes to see gains from some recently released technology, including the 9700 Hospitality Management System, which was announced yesterday.
For the nine months that ended March 31, revenue was $235.2 million with a net loss of $1.8 million, or 10 cents per share.