Netscape Posts Fourth-Quarter Loss

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Netscape today announced heavy casualties in its Browser Wars with Microsoft: The Silicon Valley start-up expects to post a surprise $85 million loss for the last quarter. Company officials blamed the 88-cent-per-share loss on the collapse of Pacific markets, as well as "competitive pressure" on its client-side browser software.

Netscape officials, who predicted that the company would be profitable next year, said some facilities would be closed and an undisclosed number of workers would be laid off. But Wall Street, stung by estimates that the company would put up a solid 14-cents-per-share gain, was not amused, and Netscape stock sank to $18 5/16 in early afternoon trading. Company stock has lost over half its value since early October on fears that it will be the big loser in its browser war with Microsoft. With Microsoft's Internet Explorer gaining popularity, the investors just might be right. Of course, a federal judge in Washington could have something to say about that in a hearing next week to determine whether Microsoft should be fined $1 million a day for illegally tying its browser to its monopoly operating system.

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