March 3, 2008 / 11:23 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-TurboChef posts Q4 loss; says 2008 to be profitable

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March 3 (Reuters) - TurboChef Technologies Inc OVEN.O, a maker of speed-cooking ovens, posted a surprise fourth-quarter loss as it was hurt by higher materials prices and rising expenses, but said it expects 2008 to be overall profitable.

TurboChef shares, which closed down 46 cents at $8.04 Monday on Nasdaq, rose to $8.73 in trading after the bell.

The company said its profit expectation for the year is based on strong growth in its commercial segment revenue, progress with the launch of its residential oven and cost control, among others.

The company, whose customers include Subway, Hyatt Hotels, Hilton Hotels and Starwood Hotels HOT.N, raised the lower end of its commercial revenue outlook range for 2008 by $5 million to between $130 million and $135 million.

The company also said it is reducing by half its plans for marketing expenses for the residential oven due to the current uncertain domestic housing environment.

For the fourth quarter, TurboChef reported a loss of $4.0 million, or 14 cents a share, compared with a loss of $2.8 million, or 10 cents a share, a year earlier.

Total revenue for the quarter more than doubled to $34.3 million, driven by growth in unit sales.

Costs and expenses rose to $38.1 million during the quarter from $18.1 million a year ago.

Analysts on average expected the Atlanta, Georgia-based company to earn 3 cents a share, before special items, on revenue of $33.5 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

TurboChef said overall gross margins of 37 percent to 40 percent appear to be sustainable in the near term, despite continuing price pressures on certain materials and component parts as well as increased freight and handling charges. (Reporting by Dilipp S. Nag in Bangalore; Editing by Himani Sarkar;)

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