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BroadVision stock down despite earnings news

The e-commerce software vendor rebounds in the fourth quarter, meeting Wall Street expectations with an 8-cent per share profit. Analysts like the company's focus, but the stock is down today.

Despite an upbeat earnings report yesterday, e-commerce software vendor BroadVision saw its stock trade lower today, even though it's among just a handful of Internet commerce firms actually making money.

BroadVision solidified its claim as the top e-commerce software vendor, reporting net income of $2.09 million, or 8 cents a share, meeting the consensus forecast of analysts surveyed by First Call, compared to a loss a year earlier. Revenue increased 86 percent to $16 million from $8.6 million.

"BroadVision is the most successful of the companies in this space," said Greg Vogel, e-commerce analyst at NationsBanc Montgomery Securities, who has a "buy" recommendation on the stock. "They've really tried to look beyond being a transaction engine to process payments."

Known for software that personalizes Web sites for each visitor, BroadVision's stock traded at 41.25 near mid-day, off 3.875. It reported results after yesterday's market close, but its shares rose 3.50 yesterday to 45.125, near its 52-week high of 49.25.

Bill Burnham, e-commerce analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston, says BroadVision's focus has helped the company.

"They hit the nail on the head from the outset. Their focus from the get-go was how to create an application that allows companies to take advantage of the unique capabilities of the Internet," Burnham said.

BroadVision CEO Pehong Chen agrees: "We haven't changed a bit of what we do, and I think the market is waking up to the need that we have always been proposing."

Profitability, he adds, sets BroadVision apart from its rivals. "Any competitor in this space says it's not going to make money for years."

That description may fit Open Market, which has higher revenues but still loses money.

Netscape is another BroadVision competitor, but its future in the e-commerce space is clouded by its impending acquisition by America Online and Sun Microsystems' future role in marketing Netscape software after the deal closes.

BroadVision also competes with niche e-commerce players like ConnectInc.com and Vignette.

ConnectInc. is in the midst of a turnaround, de-emphasizing its e-commerce software and instead seeking consulting engagements and partnering with IBM, which has its own e-commerce offerings too.

Vignette, which last month refiled for an initial public offering, brings its personalization technology from the Internet publishing space but is trying to move into e-commerce. CNET: The Computer Network, parent of News.com, is a minority shareholder in Vignette.

Other private e-commerce firms that overlap with BroadVision in some areas include ATG and Interworld.

Burnham of Credit Suisse is encouraged by the quality of BroadVision's 36 new customers, including Applied Materials, Oracle, Electronic Arts, and Motorola.

"These are big companies with big budgets doing big things on the Internet," said Burnham, adding that BroadVision is dropping encouraging hints about names like Procter & Gamble and Citibank, a Netscape reference account.

Chen said the company is actively scouting potential acquisitions. On the list: professional services firms and complementary technologies such as front-office integration, integration with SAP and other enterprise software systems, and expanding beyond the Net to let companies use BroadVision software to reach customers via interactive TV and voice systems too.

Bloomberg contributed to this story.