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Comverse tumbles on growth concerns

Shares plunge $5.87, or 12 percent, to $43.76 in heavy trading after Goldman Sachs cut the communications systems and software maker's sales and earnings estimates.

    Comverse Technology shares plunged $5.87, or 12 percent, to $43.76 in heavy trading Monday after Goldman Sachs cut the communications systems and software maker's sales and earnings estimates for fiscal 2001 and fiscal 2002.

    Analyst Elan Zivotofsky chopped his fiscal 2001 sales estimate to $1.5 billion from $1.53 billion and reduced his profit estimate to $1.75 from $1.79 a share. In fiscal 2002, he expects Comverse to post sales of $1.8 billion down from $1.875 billion and earnings of $2.05 a share, down from $2.12 a share.

    "Given the current carrier spending environment, sluggish subscriber growth and a slowing in some key wireless applications, we believe it is prudent to take a more conservative view of the near-to-medium term," he wrote in a research note.

    Zivotofsky reiterated his "market outperformer" recommendation on the stock.

    More than 12.5 million shares changed hands Monday compared with its average daily volume of 4.9 million shares.

    Last quarter, Comverse topped analysts' estimates when it pocketed $79 million, or 43 cents a share, on sales of $365 million.

    First Call consensus expects the Woodbury, N.Y.-based company to earn 43 cents a share in its second quarter on sales of $369 million.

    The stock peaked at $124.75 in January before falling to a 52-week low of $44.85 in April.