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Aether revenues sluggish, further business moves possible

OWINGS MILLS, Md.-Aether Systems Inc. reported sluggish revenues and continuing net losses, which the company said was partly due to the recent sale of its wireless enterprise division. However, Aether hinted that additional sales or other major business moves may be on the horizon.

“In fiscal 2003, Aether took several important steps toward reaching its goal of profitability,” said David Oros, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We substantially completed our organizational restructuring, which resulted in significant expense reductions, and we further reduced our cash burn by divesting assets associated with the (wireless enterprise) division. The combined effect of this aggressive expense reduction program, along with execution of our strategic divestiture process, clearly had a negative impact on our revenue in 2003, which came in somewhat below expectation.

“As we move forward, we will seek to improve the profitability of our Mobile Government and Transportation units. At the same time, we continue to explore possible acquisitions, additional divestitures and other strategic options that we believe will allow us to enhance the value of our assets for our shareholders.”

Investors appeared disheartened by the news, sending Aether’s stock down more than 11 percent to about $4.58 per share.

Aether reported revenues in the fourth quarter of $12.5 million, slightly up from the $15.9 million it scored in the same quarter last year. For the full year, Aether’s revenues were down compared with 2002, which the company blamed on a decline in subscriber revenue partially offset by an increase in revenue from device sales. The company’s full-year net loss, $35.8 million, was way down from its net loss in 2002.

Aether sold its wireless enterprise division-the company’s largest division-to TeleCommunications Systems Inc. in December for $19 million. Aether is now relying on revenues from its government and transportation businesses.


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