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Autodesk limps away from ugly first quarter

Software developer Autodesk Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) crept past reduced analysts' estimates in its first quarter Thursday, earning $9 million, or 15 cents a share, on sales of $194.9 million.

Its shares closed off 5/16 to 26 7/16 ahead of the earnings report.

Earlier this quarter, Autodesk warned analysts that its sales and earnings would fall well short of expectations.

First Call consensus originally expected the San Rafael, Calif. company to earn 40 cents a share in the quarter. Following the profit warning, that consensus estimate was lowered to 13 cents a share.

Company officials said customer-order delays were responsible for the disappointing quarter.

The $194.9 million in sales was 13 percent lower than the year-ago period when it made $33.6 million, or 56 cents a share, on sales of $222.9 million.

"Our first quarter results were impacted by product transition issues," said CEO Carol Bartz in a prepared release. "While we are actively working to address these transition issues, we are at the same time encouraged by our customers' enthusiasm for the upcoming Design 2000 product family."

Autodesk shares were hammered after it issued the profit warning earlier this month. In January, the stock was trading at a 52-week high of 49 7/16.

According to I/B/E/S International Inc., five institutional investment firms have downgraded the stock in the past month.

Now, 10 of the 15 analysts following the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

The stock hit a 52-week low of 21 5/8 in October.

First Call consensus expects Autodesk to earn $1.58 a share in the fiscal year.