Informix continues on comeback trail

The database software maker reports fourth-quarter operating profit that tops analyst forecasts as sales of new software rose and customers embraced new products.

Database software maker Informix yesterday reported fourth-quarter operating profit that topped analyst forecasts as sales of new software rose and customers embraced new products.

For the period ended Dec. 31, Informix said profit excluding acquisition-related charges more than doubled to $45.4 million, or 21 cents a share, from $20.5 million, or 11 cents a share, a year ago.

On that basis, the results beat analyst forecasts of 17 cents, according to First Call/Thomson Financial, which tracks company results and analyst forecasts. Sales rose 17 percent to $251.1 million from $214.9 million.

Informix, which stumbled badly in recent years amid tough competition from rival Oracle and the need to restate financial results for more than two years, has been charting a comeback the last year and a half. The company is now looking to the Internet to help boost its fortunes as a provider of software and services aimed at easing electronic commerce.

Menlo Park, Calif.-based Informix cited particularly strong sales in North America, which rose 23 percent from a year ago to $128 million. Sales in Europe, Middle East and Africa rose 16 percent from a year ago to $83 million while revenue in the Asia-Pacific region was up 10 percent to $23 million. Latin American sales declined 6 percent to $17.1 million.

"The quarter went extremely well," said Jean-Yves Dexmier, chief executive of Informix in an interview, adding that the company exceeded Wall Street revenue forecasts of $243.8 million. "The highlights of the Quarter, in my mind, are from the product perspective and the strong acceptance of our new offerings."

It recently introduced its Internet-enabled database, called Foundation 2000, as well as its iSell electronic commerce solution among other products.

Sales of new software, or license revenue, rose to a record $135.3 million, an increase of 15 percent from a year ago and 27 percent from the third quarter. Services revenue rose 20 percent to $115.8 million from a year ago.

For the year, Informix reported a loss including charges of $12.2 million, or 6 cents a share, compared with net income of $44.7 million, or 25 cents, in 1998. Sales rose 18 percent to $871.5 million from $735.5 million.

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