DURHAM … Just like individuals investors, the slumping financial markets have taken a bite out of Cree’s bottom line.

The semiconductor products maker had to write down the value of its public and private investments by $23.4 million in its fiscal fourth quarter, turning what would have been a $975,000 profit into a $22.5 million loss, or 31 cents a share.

Cree (Nasdaq: CREE) reported quarterly revenue of $37.8 million, compared with $44.7 million a year ago. The company earned $6.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2001.

For the full year, Cree lost $101.7 million, or $1.40 per share, on $155.4 million in revenue, compared with earnings of $27.8 million on $177.2 million in revenue in fiscal 2001. Most of the loss came from a $65 million third-quarter writeoff related to the downsizing of its UltraRF division, now known as Cree Microwave.

“This has been a challenging year, but we are beginning to recognize the benefits of our investment of 18 percent of revenue in R&D in fiscal 2002,” President and Chief Executive Chuck Swoboda said in a statement. “Cree has gained market share by creating new technology and solutions for our customers. We’re pleased with our recent revenue performance and believe that we are well positioned to deliver a significant increase in LED sales in the first quarter of fiscal 2003.”

Cree raised its sales and earnings projections for the first quarter of fiscal 2003, which ends Sept. 30. The company now expects about $45 million in revenue in the quarter, or 20 percent more than the 2002 fourth quarter, which should produce operating income of 4 cents per share.

Cree: www.cree.com