Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=119379
Story Retrieval Date: 6/18/2013 12:45:08 AM CST
Ashley Bates / Medill
The company was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange on Jan. 13, when it closed at 32 cents, but it still trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Nortel shares tumbled 4.8 percent Monday and closed at 10 Canadian cents, or 7.8 U.S. cents.
Nortel lost $4.28 per diluted share in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. This compared with losses of $844 million, or $1.70 per diluted share, in the same period the previous year. Among the causes of this precipitous decline were a $1.24 billion non-cash write down of goodwill, $97 million in restructuring charges and exchange rate fluctuations totaling $46 million.
Nortel’s revenue dropped 5 percent to $10.42 billion, from $10.95 billion a year earlier. Mike Zafirovski, Nortel’s president and chief executive officer, said in a Feb. 25 statement that recessionary market conditions were partially to blame for the decline in sales. He also admitted that “significant changes are required to regain [Nortel’s] financial footing.”
“Tough decisions are being made to restructure the company and work toward a successful emergence from creditor protection,” he said.
Nortel is in a race against time as it continues to operate in the red. The company has been trounced by its competitors, including Cisco Systems Inc., which recently posted profits of $1.5 billion for the quarter ended Jan. 24. Cisco, which is based in California, has enjoyed wider global demand for its products and a more advantageous currency translation to the U.S. dollar.
In the most recent quarter Nortel’s cash from operating activities was $89 million, down sharply from $417 million a year ago.
In a Monday press release, Nortel declined to offer guidance “due to limited industry visibility, continued global economic uncertainty and work taking place on a comprehensive restructuring plan under Nortel’s creditor protection filings.”
Nortel also did not schedule a webcast teleconference to discuss its financial statement, a service it had offered with the release of previous quarters’ earnings reports.
“Companies typically don’t have those once they’ve gone into bankruptcy protection like we have. Most of the analysts don’t follow us anymore,” Jay Barta, a Nortel spokesperson, explained in an interview.
Mark McKechnie, an analyst at American Technology Research, questioned the company’s capacity to survive much longer.
“The world doesn’t necessarily need another Nortel out there,” he said. “There are some interesting parts of their businesses that may be picked up in a fire sale. The Chinese might be interested in taking a peek at them.”
Nortel prospered during the Internet building boom of the 1990s and is known for its besieged but still-profitable wireless business. However, a wave of problems— including the dot-com bust, an internal accounting scandal that led to the firing of key executives and the current economic recession—has brought the company to the brink of collapse.
McKechnie said that Nortel was never successful enough in keeping pace with “next generation” technologies.
“The product cycles in the telecom space are long,” he said. “It’s just a sad case of a company whose balance sheet ran out before their next product cycle started up. And no question the macro environment aggravated that, but they were having a tough time even when the market was strong.”
For all of 2008, Nortel’s loss widened to $5.8 billion, or $11.64 per diluted shares, from $957 million, or $1.98 per diluted share in 2007. Revenues fell 4.8 percent to $10.42 billion from $10.95 billion a year ago.