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Novatel's forecast misses estimates due to higher competition

(Reuters) - Novatel Wireless Inc reported quarterly revenue that missed analysts' estimates and the wireless equipment maker forecast fourth-quarter results below Street expectations, blaming rising competition at a customer.

The company's shares fell 29 percent to $2.05 in after-market trading on Wednesday.

Novatel, which makes mobile hotspots, USB modems and wireless modem cards for PCs, forecast revenue of $66 million-$78 million, way below Street estimates of $99.5 million.

The company said it expects an adjusted loss of 14 cents per share to breakeven in the fourth quarter, compared with analysts' estimates of a loss of 6 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"We expect to see the impact of an increasing level of competition at a customer in the mobile hotspot category," Chief Executive Peter Leparulo said in a statement.

Competition in the mobile hotspot business has risen from low-cost Asian makers such as ZTE Corp and Huawei Technology Co Ltd.

Novatel, whose chief rival Sierra Wireless Inc reports quarterly earnings on Thursday, supplies to AT&T Inc, Verizon Wireless, Bell Canada and Sprint Corp.

Revenue rose 2 percent to $92.7 million for the quarter ended September 30, but fell short of expectations of $94.5 million.

The company's net loss narrowed to $5.1 million, or 15 cents per share, from $7.9 million, or 23 cents per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, net loss was 4 cents per share, compared to expectations of a loss of 10 cents.

Shares of the San Diego-based company closed at $2.91 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday. The stock has gained 119 percent in the year to its Wednesday close.

(Reporting by Soham Chatterjee; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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