Psion PDA sales halved, but Symbian IPO on course

A month after it announced it was halting the production of handheld computers and laying off 250 employees, Psion PLC on Wednesday reported a loss for the first half of its fiscal year but assured investors that its IPO (initial public offering) for Symbian Ltd. is still on track.

After taxes, charges for goodwill and the company's reorganization, Psion posted a total loss of 54.5 million pounds (US$77.13 million, as of June 30, the last day of the six-month period being reported) or 0.131 pounds per share, the company said in a statement. That is compared to a profit of 2 million pounds, or 0.005 pounds per share for the first half of last year, Psion said.

Last month, Psion announced that it was restructuring its Psion Digital division to create products and services for wireless WANs (wide area networks) and wireless LANs aimed at the corporate and education markets. In doing so, it would move away from producing handheld computers and would not release its planned Bluetooth products.

Those layoffs, with the inclusion of the 100 job cuts announced last March, total 350 employees, Psion said. The U.K.-based company will also take a total one time charge of 41 million pounds, of which 29.4 million pounds was taken against the first half of 2001, Psion said.

Psion's earnings, in light of its warning last month and its restructuring efforts, were in line with its expectations, Psion Chairman David Potter said in the statement. Potter added that Psion's restructuring efforts would begin to show results in 2002.

Revenue for the first six months of 2001 was 100.5 million pounds, an increase of 6.5 percent from the same period last year (94.3 million pounds), but only with the inclusion of sales from the newly acquired Teklogix International Inc., Psion said. If revenue from Teklogix -- which Psion bought in September 2000 -- is excluded, Psion's revenue comes in at 48.7 million pounds for the first half of the year, a decline of 48 percent from the same period last year, the company said.

Its Psion Digital division -- a combination of three former divisions: Psion Computers, Psion Connect and Psion InfoMedia -- posted a net loss of 28.7 million on revenue of 36.5 million, Psion said.. Revenue for the divisions in the first six months of last year was 77.2 million pounds, the company said. As a result of its poor performance, the Psion Digital division took a one-time charge of 18.4 million pounds in the first half of 2001, Psion said.

Psion Digital will continue to market and offer support for its remaining inventory of PDA (personal digital assistant) and PC card products but expects those businesses to progressively decline, Psion said.

Moving forward, Psion will focus its operations on Psion Teklogix and Symbian -- which Psion co-owns with Nokia Corp., Motorola Inc. and L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co., the company said.

Psion expects Symbian -- which developed and promotes an operating system for mobile phones -- to require additional funding in the first half of 2002, though the company did not say just how much funding would be needed. The board of Symbian is "confident that this funding will be secured," Psion added.

Symbian is currently developing an operating system for smartphones and handheld computers -- work which will secure the company's long-term position, Psion said. As a result, the company remained "committed to Symbian's flotation in due course,'' Psion said.

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Laura Rohde

Computerworld

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