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Verity rides 1Q earnings to big gains

Intranet software developer Verity Inc. (Nasdaq: VRTY) shot up 4 1/8, or 7 percent, to an all-time high of 61 3/8 Wednesday, one day after it shattered analysts' estimates in its first quarter.

Verity earned $5.1 million, or 32 cents a share, on sales of $19.8 million.

First Call consensus expected it to earn 16 cents a share in the quarter.

On Wednesday, Banc of America Securities raised its fiscal 2000 earnings estimate from $1.24 a share to $1.48 a share and set a 12-month price target of $74 a share.

The $19.8 million in sales represents a 50 percent improvement compared to the year-ago quarter when it pocketed $1.2 million, or 10 cents a share, on sales of $13.2 million.

Anytime a company doubles the Street estimate and report a 315 percent jump in net income year-over-year, it's obviously doing something right.

"The first quarter of fiscal 2000 was our sixth straight quarter of record revenues and net income," said CEO Gary Sbona in a prepared release. "We continue to see strong interest in Verity's products and services across our core Internet, intranet and OEM lines of business."

Software product sales surged up 46 percent from the year-ago period to $14.5 million, or roughly 73 percent of the company's total sales.

Last quarter, Verity dazzled Wall Street, earning $5 million, or 34 cents a share, on sales of $19.3 million.

On Monday, Josephthal & Lyon upgraded it from a "buy" recommendation to its "focus list" recommendation.

The stock's performance has been incredible in the past year, surging from a low of 5 1/8 in October to a high of 57 7/8 earlier this month.

All seven analysts following the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

First Call consensus expects it to make 94 cents a share in the fiscal year.