Apple Computer's shares fell as much as 21 per cent after the troubled personal computer maker forecast a first-quarter operating loss, overshadowing the company's attempts at a turnaround.
The company said it would have an operating loss of $100m- $150m (pounds 59m- pounds 89m) for the quarter ended 27 December, and revenue 10 per cent below the $2.3bn reported in the fourth quarter of 1995/96 because of slow sales of Performa personal computers and a shortage of Powerbook laptops.
Apple's shares fell $4 to $17.5 amid turnover of 12.1 million, making the stock the most active in US trading.
"With all the strategic issues Apple faces, when you throw in the disappointing earnings forecast, we don't think there is a reason to keep our valuation on the stock," said Donald Young, an analyst at Prudential Securities, who cut the stock to hold from buy. Andrew Neff, analyst at Bear, Stearns & Co, downgraded his rating to unattractive from neutral.
Apple's operating loss would amount to 80c to $1.20 a share, more than the average estimate of 4c among analysts. The news comes two weeks after the company said it would bring back co-founder Steve Jobs and build new computers by integrating an operating system developed by NeXT Software - Mr Jobs's company.Reuse content