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Tekelec Surprises Wall Street With A First-Quarter Loss

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MORRISVILLE, N.C. — Telecom gear manufacturer


stock dropped as low as $9.50 a share on Thursday after the company issued an earnings report that was in the red, not black.

Tekelec (Nasdaq: TKLC) rallied to close at $10.33 from a pre-market opening price of $9.50 on Thursday. Still, shares were down 11.6 percent on the day after Tekelec reported a huge loss for the first quarter of 2006.

Analysts had forecast a profit, but Tekelec said it lost $16.5 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had forecast a 14-cent per share profit on revenues of $145 million.

Tekelec reported a 23 percent drop in revenues, to $107.5 million, from $138.9 million for the same quarter in 2005.

The loss amounted to 25 cents per share.

Tekelec reported a $17.5 million profit, or 24 cents a share, for the opening quarter of last year.

Before the earnings announcement, Tekelec dropped 54 cents, to $11.69. Its 52-week high is $21.15.

Kenneth Muth, an analyst at Baird, cut Tekelec to "neutral" from "outperform" on the news. "We would remain on the sidelines until management can convey a more transparent revenue growth strategy with improved gross margins," Muth said in a note to clients, according to The Associated Press. George Notter, an analyst at Jefferies & Co., and Tim Savageaux at Merriman Curhan Ford, maintained "buy" ratings, however. Tekelec recently completed a review of its finances and with Wednesday's filing believes it is in compliance for continued listing on Nasdaq. The company had faced the threat of delisting.

In a statement, Tekelec Chief Executive Officer Frank Plastina said he would not offer financial guidance for the second quarter or all of 2006.

"However, we do not believe that the first quarter results reflect a trend in our revenues, gross margins, operating income or earnings per share or are representative of the performance we expect for the second quarter or second half of 2006," he said. "In fact, we currently expect an improvement in each of these periods relative to the first quarter of 2006. We currently estimate that revenues from our Telecom business for the full year 2006 will increase on a year-over-year basis compared to Telecom revenues of $486.5 million in 2005."

Tekelec did report a 14 percent increase in orders for the quarter, to $138.6 million, compared to 2005. Its order backlog is up 30 percent from a year ago to $604.5 million.

Changes in how the company books revenues, which were made as Tekelec restated recent earnings, led to the company deferring $21.9 million in quarterly revenue since not all equipment in purchase orders was shipped.

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