Compaq Computer Corp. on Tuesday reported an operating loss for the third quarter due to the economic downturn, the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, a typhoon in Taiwan, and its merger plans with Hewlett-Packard Co. .

Compaq -- the No. 2 manufacturer of personal computers -- also said that it expects the fourth quarter to be weak.

The Houston, Texas-based company said that it lost $120 million, or 7 cents a share in the third quarter, compared with earnings of $557 million, or 31 cents a share in the year-earlier period.

After Compaq pre-announced on Oct. 1 that it expected to post a loss in a range of 5 cents to 7 cents a share, analysts expected a 6 cent per share loss, according to Thomson Financial/First Call.

Compaq said that sales fell to $7.5 billion in the quarter, down from $11.2 billion in the year-ago period.