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Profit, sales soar for Adobe

The software maker doubles income, a rise it credits to strong sales of PDF-based products and of its new Photoshop package.

Adobe Systems, a maker of graphics and publishing software, reported strong revenue and profit growth on Thursday, buoyed by growth in its PDF business.

The company reported net income of $123 million, or 50 cents a share, for its first quarter, which ended March 5. That compares with $54.2 million, or 23 cents a share, in the same period a year ago and with an average estimate of 40 cents a share from analysts polled by Reuters.

Revenue for the quarter was $423.3 million, compared with $296.9 million a year ago.

Executives credited the results to continued strong sales of Adobe Creative Suite, the graphics package released last year that includes the latest version of Photoshop, the popular image-editing application.

Adobe executives said during a conference call on Thursday that sales of the Creative Suite accounted for more than 15 percent of Adobe's revenue during the quarter and surpassed sales of the standalone version of Photoshop.

"A large number of customers have told us they see significant benefits to a comprehensive platform approach," Shantanu Narayen, an executive vice president of worldwide products, said in an interview.

Adobe's Intelligent Document division, which produces products based on the company's widespread portable document format (PDF), also showed solid growth. Adobe is amid a wide-reaching campaign to establish PDF, already commonly used for electronic exchange of documents, as a broad format for exchanging business data. The company has beefed up PDF (portable document format) as a format for electronic forms and added server software for managing secure documents.

Narayen said quarter-to-quarter growth for PDF-based server products was 38 percent, and Adobe was continuing to pull in new enterprise customers, despite fears that Microsoft could siphon some off with its new InfoPath electronic-forms product. The PDF and InfoPath markets have remained distinct, he said.

"Our focus and our strength continues to be in regulated industries, places where business transacted outside the firewall is important...and where a lot of customers already have a significant amount of PDF," Narayen said. "In our environment, we tend not to see much of Microsoft."

Adobe executives also hinted at plans for a new consumer video-editing release, a scaled-down version similar to the Elements version of Photoshop that the company sells for photo hobbyists.

The company, based in San Jose, Calif., increased its revenue estimate for the current fiscal year to a range of $1.475 to $1.5 billion, from a previous forecast of $1.425 billion.