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Progress jets past expectations

Progress Software Corporation (Nasdaq: PRGS) progressed beyond expectations Wednesday, reporting second quarter earnings of $7.8 million, or 40 cents a share. First Call consensus estimates were 38 cents a share.

Revenue of $70.8 million was an increase of 24 percent over the $57.1 million from the same quarter last year. If calculated according to a constant currency basis, which would discount the adverse effects of strong U.S. dollar during 1999, revenue actually grew by 27 percent, according to the company.

The company has put together a string of strong quarters. Progress also beat estimates in the first quarter and fourth quarter.

Progress bought back 708,000 shares in the second quarter. It has purchased 5.7 million shares at a cost of $88.4 million since 1996. The company had $113 million in cash at the end of the quarter.

Joseph W. Alsop, Progress Software's president, said the company is gaining momentum in the business applications space. Alsop said Progress' products are easier to install and cost less to maintain than those of competitors.

Developments in the second quarter included the unveiling of a Universal Applications Architecture (UAA), a framework for business-to-business applications that operate over the Internet. Progress also said it had widened its lead in the embedded database market, where the company competes with Oracle, Sybase, among others.

Progress, whose products are installed in over 60 percent of Fortune 100 companies according to company data, closed Tuesday down 7/8 to 27 13/16. The stock has a 52-week high of 38 3/8.

Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL), which is expected to soar since it reported earnings yesterday, closed at 25 1/8, and Sybase (Nasdaq: SYBS) at 9 1/2. Progress also competes with PeopleSoft, (Nasdaq: PSFT) which closed at 15 1/8.>