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Downgrades send Citrix shares into tailspin

Citrix Systems shares plunged 4 1/16, or 18 percent, to 18 1/16 Thursday after a pair of analysts downgraded the stock following its second-quarter earnings report.

Citrix did manage to meet analysts' reduced estimates in the quarter, earning $20.8 million, or 10 cents a share, on sales of $106.1 million.

First Call Corp. consensus pegged Citrix for a profit of 10 cents a share.

Analysts originally expected Citrix to earn 16 cents a share in the quarter but lowered their estimates after the software developer warned
that its second-quarter sales and earnings would be lower than expected.

On Thursday, Lehman Brothers cut the stock from a "buy" recommendation to "neutral" while CS First Boston downgraded it from a "buy" rating to a "hold."

The $106.1 million in sales represents a 12 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it earned $30.2 million, or 16 cents a share, on sales of $94.4 million.

Company officials blamed a faster-than-expected transition from a shrink-wrap "box" licensing model to a paper/electronic licensing model for the sales shortfall as well as sluggish sales in Asia.

Last quarter, Citrix topped analysts' estimates when it raked in $43.9 million, or 21 cents a share, on sales of $127.5 million.

Its shares raced up to a 52-week high of 122 5/16 in March before plunging to a low of 17 1/2 earlier this month following the profit warning.

Five of the 10 analysts tracking the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy" while the others rate it a "hold."

Analysts are expecting it to earn 64 cents a share in the fiscal year.