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WebMethods speeds off with Ford deal

The business-to-business software company says it has struck a deal to help the giant automaker stitch together its disparate software systems.

Business-to-business software company WebMethods on Monday said it has struck a deal with Ford Motor to help the giant automaker stitch together its disparate software systems.

Under the agreement, WebMethods, whose flagship integration software enables different applications to share data, said it will work with Ford?s ConsumerConnect e-commerce unit. WebMethods, based in Fairfax, Va., will provide the software to link Ford?s customer information systems with data housed in other internal systems such as financials and manufacturing.

The goal is to gain real-time access to a complete view of a customer?s personal data, ordering history and the like, the two companies said.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Ford marks one of WebMethods?s largest clients to date. The 4-year-old software maker, which this year turned its first profit, also serves other big-name clients including tech heavyweight Cisco Systems and pharmaceuticals giant Solvay. The company competes in the growing market for business-to-business integration software against much bigger fish, including Oracle, Microsoft and IBM.

The news shook some life into WebMethods? sagging shares. In morning trading, shares of WebMethods rose $3.18, jumping 12 percent, to $29.63. The stock has fallen nearly 70 percent for the year.

WebMethods' stock may also have been buoyed by published reports that Hewlett-Packard has held exploratory talks to acquire the e-business software maker. HP and WebMethods' representatives could not be reached for immediate comment on the buyout rumor.

Although WebMethods said it faces a rosy future as demand for its products flourishes, the company has recently stumbled, along with other technology companies that have been tripped up by the gloomy economy.

Earlier this month, WebMethods blamed a faltering economy for revenue shortfalls, warning Wall Street that it would miss fourth-quarter earnings and sales expectations. This, just after the company trumpeted its first-ever profit and insisted that its business did not show any signs of danger from the softening of technology spending.

The company expects to post fourth-quarter revenue of between $60 million and $62 million and earnings of between breakeven and 3 cents per share. Analysts had expected the company to earn 6 cents per share.