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EDS meets expectations in first quarter

    Electronic Data Systems met analysts' estimates in its first quarter Thursday, posting a profit of 47 cents a share on sales of $4.5 billion.

    First Call Corp. consensus expected it to earn 47 cents a share in the quarter.

    EDS (NYSE: EDS) shares closed up 5/16 to 72 1/2 ahead of the earnings report.

    The $4.5 billion in sales marks a 5 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it made 36 cents a share on sales of $4.3 billion.

    Company officials said contract signings were $4.5 billion, the fifth straight quarter of record signings, and 50 percent higher than the quarter a year ago.

    "With a good start to a new year, we believe we are well positioned to accelerate growth and continue market leadership in 2000, as we execute our strategy for ensuring our clients receive superior value in the digital economy," said CEO Dick Brown in a prepared release.

    In the quarter, EDS also recognized a net pre-tax gain of $97.6 million, or 13 cents a share, resulting from the sale of certain e-business investments. Including this gain, net income was $288.9 million and diluted earnings per share were 60 cents a share.

    Last quarter, EDS topped analysts' estimates, earning $295 million, or 61 cents a share, on sales of $4.88 billion.

    Its shares hit a 52-week high of 76 11/16 in February after falling to a low of 47 7/8 in October.

    Twelve of the 16 analysts tracking the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

    Analysts expect the Plano, Texas-based firm to earn $2.28 a share in the fiscal year.