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April 21, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

Compagnie des Machines Bull SA was so excited to see an increase in its first-quarter revenues for the first time in three years, that it departed from usual policy in announcing partial results. Revenues for the first quarter 1994 hit the equivalent of $1,100m, an increase of 21.3% over the first quarter 1993. Contacted by Computergram, company spokesman Marc Meyer was readily available for comment on financial matters, despite previous company statements to Bull’s unwillingness to do so. Since 1990, we haven’t had a global increase in our revenues and, given that January and February are usually weak in our industry, we felt the March figure to be a significant indicator, he said. He added that the biggest hope Bull got from its first-quarter data was a 27% increase in the order backlog for all of its hardware and software products, which had been weak at the end of 1993. We can’t of course expect 27% growth for the whole year, that would be dreaming, he said, noting that it was, however, a promising figure, considering that those products represent 60% of Bull’s total revenues. In yet another policy departure, Bull indicated which divisions were its best performers. The increase was largely due to exceptional growth in Bull’s Personal Computer Division, namely Zenith Data Systems, which registered a 70% growth in revenue worldwide, with an extraordinary 132% rise in the US. Other major contributors were its Open Systems and Software Division, where shipments of Unix servers and basic software grew 64%, and its Industrial Division, whose Smart Card OEM business grew by approximately $48.3m. Meyer said the Smart Card business grew largely on the strength of its activity in the US. Geographically, Bull Overseas (Asia, Africa, South America) showed the most significant growth, at 37%. Bull Europe and Bull North America/Pacific reversed their downward trends, with growth of 9% and 5%, respectively. The announcement does not mark a permanent change in policy, Meyer said. We’re in a period of trying to straighten out the company, where communicating rapid results is important. It was in that context that we made this announcement. Bull still reserves, of course, the possibility of announcing quarterly results, but is not obliged to do so, he said. He noted that the board may decide at its meeting on May 5 to publish further results from the first quarter, at which time operating results and administrative cost reduction figures would be available. For now, no information on the effects of Bull’s cost-cutting programme are is available.

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