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Mercury Center Business

Published Tuesday, October 24, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News

Tech Ticker

Internet

New `.geo' domain would organize Net geographically

SRI International has submitted an ambitious proposal to the International Corporation for the Assignment of Names and Numbers for a new top-level domain that would make it possible for information on the Internet to be mapped according to its geographic location. Known as ``.geo'' the new domain would enable Internet users to navigate the Web in much the same way they do the real world. For example, a Web surfer could visit a virtual corner on a nearby street to find the closest restaurant.

The initiative grew out of two geospatial research projects -- TerraVision and Digital Earth. Research funds came from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, the same agency that backed the ArpaNet, the precursor to the Internet. For more information, visit www.dotgeo.org.

Financials

National Semiconductor warns of decline in sales

National Semiconductor Corp., a diversified maker of computer chips, Monday said that sales in its current fiscal second quarter and in the third may fall below the first quarter's $640.8 million.

The Santa Clara-based chip maker cited changes in the inventory that its mobile phone customers were making. Mobile phone makers have been hit by lower-than-expected demand, which has crimped sales and earnings forecasts.

National Semiconductor said sales for the second quarter ending Nov. 26 will be 6 percent to 8 percent below first-quarter sales. National Semiconductor also said that while personal-computer-related orders are stronger, they are still below the company's expectations.

Economy

Dot-com job cuts accelerate; Stamps.com joins the trend

Challenger, Gray and Christmas' monthly report on job cuts shows layoffs are accelerating among Internet companies. The latest casualty is Stamps.com Inc., which said Monday that it will cut 40 percent of its jobs, or 240 workers, to reduce costs at the mailing and shipping services company. The number of job cuts among dot-coms rose 18 percent in October to 5,677, from 4,805 in September, Challenger said. The industry has cut 22,267 jobs since December. Consulting, financial and information services have been hit hardest.

Of the 274 companies tracked since December, 44 of them, or 16 percent, have closed shop.

Semiconductors

Report indicates expanding market for chip makers

North American-based semiconductor equipment makers posted September orders of $2.83 billion, 16 percent higher than shipments during the month, according to a trade group.

Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International said that a book-to-bill ratio of 1.16 indicates an expanding market. The ratio means that for every dollar of chip-making equipment shipped to customers, $1.16 was received in orders.

There has been much speculation by industry and Wall Street analysts whether the current boom time in the semiconductor industry has peaked and that the industry will soon contract. Semiconductor and chip-equipment maker shares are sharply off their year-highs in recent months.
The bookings figure was 5 percent below August's but 88 percent above the $1.51 billion in orders posted in the year-ago month.


From Mercury News staff and wire services

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