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Adobe Systems hurdles 2Q forecasts, offers bright outlook

Adobe Systems not only beat the Street estimate by 3 cents a share in its second quarter Thursday, but it also told investors to expect sales growth of at least 25 percent in each of the next two quarters.

The software developer checked in with a profit of $65.8 million, or 51 cents a share, on record sales of $300.1 million.

A survey of analysts by First Call Corp. predicted the San Jose, Calif. company would earn 48 cents a share in the quarter.

Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE) shares moved up 2 7/8 to 124 3/4 ahead of the earnings report.

The $300.1 million in sales represents a 22 percent jump from the year-ago quarter when it earned $45 million, or 35 cents a share, on sales of $245.9 million.

Excluding some restructuring and one-time charges, Adobe posted a profit of $95.8 million in the quarter.

"Our Web publishing and Acrobat revenue accelerated, and our overall business continues to be fueled by the Internet," said CEO John Warnock in a prepared release. "We are in the best position in the company's 17-year history."

Adobe's stellar performance even caught some of its biggest proponents by surprise.

Jay Vleeschhouwer, an analyst at Merrill Lynch, predicted Adobe would earn 48 cents a share on sales of around $295 million.

“Adobe’s been a strong performer for most of the past year,” Vleeschhouwer said last week. “It’s really benefiting from some of its new products as well as upgrades of their popular programs like PhotoShop and Illustrator.”

Last quarter, Adobe flew past analysts' estimates, earning $64.6 million, or 51 cents a share, on sales of $282.2 million.

Despite all its recent success, Adobe isn't going to rest on its laurels.

"We confirm 25 percent planned revenue growth for the second half of fiscal 2000 and we are pleased to announce that we expect 25 percent revenue growth in each of the third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2000," Warnock added.

Analysts had projected growth of 20 percent in the second half.

Separately, the company announced the promotion of Murray Demo to senior vice president and chief financial officer from interim CFO, vice president and corporate controller.

Adobe shares moved up to a 52-week high of 132 in April after falling to a low of 33 13/16 last June.

Eleven of the 14 analysts tracking the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

First Call Corp. consensus expects it to post a profit of $2.02 a share in the fiscal year.