Digital Equipment Corp is expected to report sharply lower third quarter earnings when it reports tomorrow, Thursday. The main culprit will be a slowdown in sales of its Alpha-based systems. They had grown 4% in the first quarter and 1% in the second, but the third is traditionally DEC’s strongest for Alpha sales, and despite price cuts in January many analysts reckon sales may actually be flat or down in the third quarter, according to Reuters. First Call averages out the analysts’ estimates at $0.24 per share, against $0.74 per share the same period last year. Analyst Gary Helmig of SoundView Financial Group said DEC had been warning analysts to expect revenues to flat or down sequentially in the third quarter. Currency fluctuations are expected to cost the company about $30m in the quarter. There are also reports of many key sales staff leaving the company.