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Sun Reports Strong Fiscal-Second Quarter Earnings
By Cliff Edwards   Associated Press
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Sun Microsystems said Internet companies continued to buy networked computers and equipment through the Y2K preparations period, helping boost its second-quarter profits sharply.

Sun reported Thursday that its profit in the three months ended Dec. 26, its fiscal second quarter, totaled $353 million, or 21 cents a share. That compares to a profit of $261.4 million, or 16 cents a share, after charges for acquisitions, in the year-ago quarter.

Sun, based in Palo Alto, was expected to earn 20 cents a share, according to a survey of analysts by First Call/Thomson Financial. Forecasts published on the Internet shortly before the announcement, called whisper numbers, had predicted per-share earnings as high as 22 cents a share.

Sun's shares have more than tripled this past year amid brisk sales of network equipment, powerful desktop computers and servers, machines that run computer networks. Driving demand is a growing number of companies planning to create or expand their business on the Internet.

Sun's sales have outpaced rivals IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., and the company has beat or matched earnings expectations for five consecutive quarters.

"Sun continues to capture market share as we set the agenda in the 'dot com' era," said chief executive Scott McNealy.

Revenues reached $3.55 billion, up 27 percent from $2.784 billion.

McNealy said Sun found virtually no slowdown in sales in the past quarter despite fears many companies would stop buying in advance of the Y2K turnover. Sales to financial services firms in England were the only area where Sun saw a slowdown in buying, executives said.

"A year ago, I was talking to you about the Y2K slowdown," McNealy said. "Well, it didn't happen. It just flat out, didn't happen."

IBM reported in its earnings announcement a day earlier that profits tumbled 11 percent amid a slowdown in corporate spending because of Y2K, although the company met Wall Street forecasts.

For the first six months of the fiscal year, Sun reported net income of $625.5 million, or 37 cents a share, up from $372.9 million, or 23 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenues rose to $6.7 billion from $5.3 billion.

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