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Macromedia tumbles on outlook, downgrades

Despite topping earnings for its third quarter, the Web authoring company slumps after analysts raise concerns over its near-term outlook and merger with Allaire.

Despite topping earnings for its third quarter, Macromedia slumped Wednesday after analysts raised concerns over the company's near-term outlook and merger with Allaire.

Shares in the software and multimedia company dropped $13.69, or 31 percent, to $30.31 by the 1 p.m. PST close of regular trading. Earlier in the day, Macromedia hit a new 52-week low of $29 after the company was slapped with a host of downgrades.

After market close Tuesday, Macromedia beat estimates for its third quarter by 2 cents a share. Earnings jumped 97 percent over the year-ago period; revenue saw a 61 percent increase from the same period last year.

The company also announced a $360 million merger with Allaire, with a view to entering into back-end application development software.

But for analysts, an uncertain outlook for demand and near-term concerns over the Allaire acquisition resulted in a slew of downgrades and lowered estimates for Macromedia. Although most agreed that the merger should work in the long run, many analysts decided to adopt a wait-and-see approach.

Macromedia was downgraded to "neutral" from "buy" at U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray. Tucker Anthony Capital Markets analyst Aaron M. Scott downgraded the stock to "buy" from "strong buy" and cut his 12-month price target to $65 from $110.

Scott said that revenues are expected to remain relatively flat sequentially in the March quarter. Although he noted that the product pipeline at the company remains strong, the analyst raised concerns over the purchase of Allaire.

"While the company expects the deal to be accretive to earnings in fiscal 2002, we are unsure of Macromedia's ability to smoothly integrate Allaire's products and infrastructure. A year ago, Macromedia acquired Andromedia, and we have yet to see any tangible server-side benefits resulting from the acquisition," the analyst wrote in a research note.

Banc of America Securities analyst Greg Vogel downgraded Macromedia to "buy" from "strong buy" and cut his 12-month price target to $58 from $89. Vogel said the company's comments appear to show that business has not yet reaccelerated, yielding flat revenue and earnings growth in the fourth quarter.