UPDATE 2-STMicro Q4 loss, to cut 4,500 jobs in 2009

Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:20pm EST

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* Loss per share, excluding items, 6 cents

* To cut 4,500 net jobs in 2009 to save over $700 million

* Expects Q1 revenue of $1.5 billion to $1.85 billion (Adds details on forecasts, analysts and executives' comments)

PARIS/LOS ANGELES, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Franco-Italian chip maker STMicroelectronics (STM.PA) plans to slash 4,500 jobs in 2009, joining rivals across the globe in fighting dwindling tech spending as it unveiled disappointing quarterly losses and shrinking margins.

Europe's largest chip company, whose top client Nokia (NOK1V.HE) last week announced worse-than-expected earnings, expects to post $1.5 billion to $1.85 billion revenue in the first quarter -- a slide of up to 40 percent and short of consensus estimates.

The company, which like rival Texas Instruments TXN.N TXN.N is battling an industry downturn, is hoping to save more than $700 million this year through a net reduction of 4,500 jobs.

STMicro also announced it was slashing 2009 capital expenditures by half to $500 million.

The results "reflected the accelerated level of order push-outs and cancellations and decrease in demand as the quarter progressed," Chief Executive Carlo Bozotti said in a statement.

But he added: "We grew our revenues faster than the overall market during 2008 and estimate we are approaching a record level of market share."

The supplier of chips for products from MP3 players to automated door openers reported a net loss of $366 million or 42 cents per share in the fourth quarter, versus a net income of $20 million or 2 cents a share a year ago.

But excluding charges related to restructuring and impairment, inventory step-up, and other-than-temporary impairments on equity investment and certain financial assets, it posted a loss of $57 million, or 6 cents per share, in the fourth quarter versus a profit of $255 million, or 27 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of 4 cents per share on a comparable basis, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue fell 17 percent to $2.28 billion and the company's gross margin stood at 36.1 percent. STMicro had said it expected fourth-quarter margins of about 38 percent.

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A TECH PLAGUE

ST Micro's shares did not trade actively after hours in New York (STM.N) on Tuesday. They ended the day in Paris up nearly 3 percent.

For the first quarter of 2009, the group's revenue range of $1.5 billion to $1.85 billion fell short of a consensus estimate for $1.895.81 billion.

STMicro's lackluster showing reflected problems plaguing the global chip industry.

Global cellphone shipments are poised to drop in 2009 after years of inexorable growth, while the automotive industry -- once the major source of profitable growth for many chip makers -- is scaling back production and firing thousands.

Texas Instruments on Monday posted a smaller-than-expected drop in quarterly profit, but added that it may post a loss in the first quarter of 2009. [ID:nN26383880]

Nokia, the world's No. 1 cellphone maker and STMicro's largest single client, last week posted worse-than-expected earnings and warned industry phone sales were set to drop 10 percent in 2009. [ID:nLL462427]

Telecommunications typically accounts for by far the largest portion of STMicro's net revenue, at nearly 40 percent in the fourth quarter.

On Nov. 28, STMicro had lowered its outlook for full-year sales and earnings, blaming the global slowdown on demand for its wireless, automotive and computer peripheral products.

It also lowered its target for a gross margin in the period to 38 percent, plus or minus one percentage point, compared with a previous target of around 38.8 percent, citing unused plant capacity. [ID:nL0278631] (Writing by Edwin Chan and Matt Gil; editing by Richard Chang)

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