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Computer Associates ekes past 3Q forecasts

Computer Associates (NYSE: CA) topped analysts' estimates by a penny a share in its third quarter Wednesday, earning $425 million, or 76 cents a share, on sales of $1.81 billion.

Its shares closed off 1/8 to 74 9/16 ahead of the earnings report.

First Call consensus expected it to earn 75 cents a share in the quarter.

The $1.81 billion in sales marks a 33 percent improvement versus the year-ago quarter when it earned $354.6 million, or 64 cents a share, on sales of $1.36 billion.

"The explosion of Internet computing by both the 'dot coms' and established companies, is driving global demand for highly scalable and stable IT solutions that power eBusiness," said CEO Charles Wang in a prepared release. "Organizations around the world continue to turn to CA in record numbers to make their eBusiness infrastructure safe, secure, and available."

In the quarter, distributed systems revenue increased 45 percent from last year to $898 million, while OS/390 revenue increased 19 percent to $776 million. Revenue from distributed systems accounted for 49 percent of total revenue.

Geographically, sales from North America totaled $1.23 billion, an increase of 41 percent from the prior year while international revenue was $617 million, excluding the $37 million negative foreign exchange impact, an increase of 27 percent.

Last quarter, Computer Associates met Street estimates, earning $334.5 million, or 75 cents a share, on sales of $1.6 billion.

Separately, the company inked a distribution pact with Red Hat Inc. (Nasdaq: RHAT.

Red Hat has agreed to distribute Computer Associate's network management software with its Linux operating system. In addition to software distribution, the deal encompasses marketing and support.

CA shares moved up to a 52-week high of 77 earlier this month after falling to a low of 32 1/8 in March.

First Call consensus expects it to earn $2.72 a share in the fiscal year.