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Network Solutions&#039 first quarter tops estimates

Network Solutions (Nasdaq: NSOL) on Thursday reported strong first quarter earnings of $14.7 million, or 20 cents a share, on sales of $98.2 million. The results easily beat Wall Street estimates.

According to earnings tracking firm First Call Corp., Network Solutions was expected to rake in 14 cents a share.

Network Solutions, which registers Internet domain names, said sales were up 157 percent from $38.1 million a year ago. Earnings soared 206 percent from $4.8 million, or 7 cents a share, a year ago. The company has enjoyed monopoly status on domain registrations until recently. Network Solutions has made the most of its head start -- it's been profitable for 14 consecutive quarters.

The company, which is being acquired by VeriSign (Nasdaq: VSGN), has nearly $1 billion in cash. Deferred revenue was $465 million as of March 31.

Network Solutions said it saw an "astounding acceleration in .com, .net and .org domain name registrations worldwide." New registrations were up 120 percent from the fourth quarter, and a third of all .com, .net and .org domain names were registered in the first quarter.

In the quarter, Network Solutions said it registered nearly 2 million names, up 21 percent sequentially. The company also added 785,000 net new international registrations in .com, .net and .org domains. The company had 9.9 million total registrations as of March 31.Value-added services brought in sales $20.3 million in the first quarter.

Network Solutions competes with (Nasdaq: RCOM) among others as a registrar. The company, however, maintains the registry database for its competitors. The Network Solutions registry had 13.9 million paid registrations in service as of March 31. Total new registrations into the registry were 5 million during the quarter.