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STMicroelectronics profits ease

Bullish for 1999 prospects

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STMicroelectronics failed -- just -- to match Q4, 1997 profits, with net income in Q4 1998 faring 3.6 per cent worse than the year before. But results comfortably beat analyst expectations. The French semiconductor giant produced profits of $121.6 million, equivalent to 84 cents per share, for the quarter ended December 31, down from $126.3 million the year before. The consensus analyst forecast for the quarter was 81 cents per share. STMicroelectronics attributes the results to buoyant demand for chips used in cars, mobile phones and set-top boxes. The company claims it is better placed than its rivals to profit from this year's expected upswing in the semiconductor market. Q4 sales edged up 2.6 per cent to $1.13 billion, while operating income eased 7 per cent to $154.8 million. Gross margin held firm at above 38 per cent. STMicroelectronics is making great play for the system on a chip and embedded markets. In recent weeks it has beefed up its technology portfolio by buying Vision Technology, the loss-making Edinburgh-based vendor of camera on a chip products, and the peripherals technology chip unit of Adaptec. ®

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