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Euro slide helps double L&H Q1

Margins not so wonderful, but speech specialist looks healthy

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Lernout & Hauspie, based in Ieper, Belgium (or Wipers as it was called by the British army during WW1) has turned in first quarter results that show a doubling of revenue to $70.7 million, and net income of $7 million before exceptional items, to wit a $5.3 million benefit, mostly from currency exchange gain. The windfall is largely related to the fall of the Euro against the dollar. L&H is slowly resolving its problems with the SEC concerning R&D write offs. The company is quoted on NASDAQ, and rather bravely, on the less than successful EASDAQ. Although consultancy and services revenue doubled, the margin is of course far less than on its products. There is a rather healthy $189 million in cash and marketable securities, with a mere $17 million of long-term debt. L&H last week obtained a fundamental European patent for a method of optimising continuous speech recognition to add to its existing US patent. Also last week, the company announced two additional tie-ups with European ISPs: Saunalahden Serveri, the number two in Finland, and World Online, based in the Netherlands (and claiming to be the largest ISP in Europe with more than a million users and 30,000 businesses). World Online is partly a joint venture between the Dutch railways and BT. They will use the L&H iTranslator, which provides human and machine translation of documents through the Internet. Moneybags Microsoft decided to exercise its warrants during the quarter and take up another $15 million of L&H stock, giving Microsoft 7 per cent of the company. ®

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