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Sterling Commerce falls on 3Q earnings miss

Sterling Commerce Inc. (NYSE: SE) shares fell 2 9/16, or 11 percent, to 21 11/16 Friday, one day after it missed reduced estimates in its third quarter.

Sterling made $37 million, or 36 cents a share before one-time benefits, on sales of $152 million.

In May, Sterling shares went into a tailspin after warning that it would miss First Call estimates of 41 cents a share in the quarter.

To turn things around, company officials said Thursday it would cut 200 jobs and reassign another 450 employees.

"The company was not satisfied with its results in the third quarter and has since completed an intensive, broad-based review of its business," said CEO Warner Blow in a prepared release.

The $152 million in sales represents a 25 percent improvement versus the year-ago quarter when it made $31.2 million, or 33 cents a share, on sales of $122 million. However, third-quarter sales slipped a tad compared to the $152.6 million it recorded in the second quarter.

Sterling shares moved up to a 52-week high of 46 7/16 in May after trading at a low of 20 1/8 in October.

First Call consensus expects it to earn $1.51 a share in the fiscal year.

Thirteen of the 23 analysts following the e-commerce software provider maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.