- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2002

Struggling telecommunications firm Acterna Corp. will lay off 400 people, 8 percent of its work force, in its second round of job cuts in the past three months.
Acterna is the latest company to feel the brunt of lower spending by telecommunications companies.
"Clearly we are continuing to feel the impact of the capital expenditure cuts by many of the largest telecom companies, ongoing difficulties in the industry and the global economic conditions," Acterna Chairman and Chief Executive Ned C. Lautenbach said in a conference call yesterday.
Acterna, based in Germantown, makes equipment to test telecommunications networks, and its largest customers include Lucent Technologies Inc., WorldCom Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc.
Acterna moved its corporate headquarters to Germantown from Burlington, Mass., in January, and 78 of the 826 persons who work there will lose their jobs in the latest round of layoffs at the company.
The layoffs announced yesterday will be the second round of cuts this year. In March, the company laid off 400 persons. It also laid off more than 1,000 people in cuts that took place in July and October of last year.
The company had 6,400 workers as of March 2001, but the work force will total an estimated 4,100 following the latest cuts.
Acterna will take a $17 million restructuring charge because of the layoffs. But it expects to save $75 million annually because of the cuts.
The company also intends to reduce costs and raise money by divesting itself of Willtek Communications Holding, which makes and distributes a cell-phone testing product. The company didn't disclose the sale price.
Acterna's fiscal first-quarter net loss increased from $20.7 million a year ago to $147.2 million.
Revenue for the quarter fell 46 percent from $393.3 million to $212.5 million. About $28 million in orders for goods and services were canceled during the fourth quarter, up from an estimate of $25 million in cancellations, said John Peeler, president of Acterna Corp.
For fiscal 2002, Acterna lost $375 million, compared with a $172 million loss the year before.
Revenue for the year reached $1.1 billion, down from $1.4 billion the year before.
Acterna Chief Financial Officer John Ratcliff predicted fiscal first-quarter sales will reach $185 million to $190 million.
Acterna got a $1.1 million grant from the Montgomery County Office of Economic Development when it decided to move its headquarters to Germantown.
The company got the grant to help finance construction of its headquarters in return for meeting job-creation and property-tax revenue benchmarks.
Yesterday's announced layoffs won't affect the grant, because the company has until 2005 to meet those goals, said Scott Sloat, spokesman for the Montgomery County Office of Economic Development.
"Right now, we're at halftime of the game. We're not even at halftime. It's still the first quarter," Mr. Sloat said.
Despite the 78 layoffs at the Germantown headquarters, Acterna spokesman Jim Monroe said the number of workers there could increase because of consolidation of the company's European operations.
The company plans to undertake an effort to consolidate work done in four manufacturing operations at two plants beginning this year, a move that likely would result in some jobs being moved to Germantown, he said.
Acterna formed two years ago when Dynatech Corp. merged with Wavetek Wandel Goltermann Inc. Dynatech bought Rockville communications-testing firm Telecommunications Techniques Corp. in 1979.
Acterna closed lower yesterday on the Nasdaq stock market, down 5 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $1.44 a share.
The company's stock price is down 87 percent from its 52-week high of $11 a share.


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