NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Struggling chipmaker National Semiconductor Corp. on Thursday reported a smaller-than-expected first-quarter loss, noting that the soft sales that have plagued the company may have hit bottom.
National Semiconductor posted a net loss of $104.8 million, or 63 cents a share, on $469.6 million in sales. First Call estimates forecast a slightly wider loss of 65 cents a share for the quarter.
Those figures are well off last-year's first quarter results, however, when the company logged earnings of $62.6 million, or 38 cents a share, on $656.7 million in sales.
"Sales continued soft during the summer quarter," said Brian Halla, National Semiconductor president and chief executive officer. "We think, however, we may have touched bottom as bookings in the first quarter improved for the first time in a year."
The company said quarterly bookings grew 7 percent over the fourth quarter of fiscal 1998, adding that personal computer-related products led the bookings upswing.
Halla cautioned that the company may not quite yet be at the end of the tunnel.
"While we are encouraged by the recent seasonal improvement in bookings, we still feel it is too early to call the turn, and we remain cautious on the near-term outlook," Halla said.
National Semiconductor (NSM) shares slipped 3/8 to 8-7/8 in midday trading.