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Adobe earnings jump, exceed expectations

The software maker says its fiscal first-quarter net income rose 69 percent, beating estimates for the sixth straight quarter, on sales of Web design products.

Sales to corporate clients helped software maker Adobe post a 69 percent gain in quarterly net income, surpassing analysts expectations.

For the quarter ended March 3, Adobe said net income was $64.6 million, or 51 cents a share, compared with $38.3 million, or 30 cents, in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding investment gains and other items, Adobe earned 47 cents a share, higher than the average estimate of 43 cents from a poll of analysts by a First Call.

Revenue rose 24 percent, to $282.2 million from $226.9 million.

"It was a pretty good quarter" said Aaron Scott, an analyst with Advest.

At the close of regular trading today, Adobe shares were up $10.88 to $94.44. The shares have traded as low as $18.84 in the past 52 weeks.

The earnings report was issued after the close of regular trading. In after-hours trading the shares dipped to about $89.

Adobe makes applications such as Acrobat, Pagemaker and Illustrator, which generate about 60 percent of its sales.

"We are very pleased with how our business is going and the acceptance of our products across all business lines," John E. Warnock, chairman and CEO, said in an interview.

Warnock attributed the strong results to increased sales to corporate customers who are buying the products and paying licensing fees.

The company's Acrobat software, widely used for reading documents downloaded from the Internet, accounted for $43.4 million of the company's revenue for the quarter, compared with $16.5 million a year ago.

Adobe's Web publishing business, which is comprised of Photoshop, Go Live, Premier and Image products, generated $113.9 million in revenue, a 31 percent increase from $87 million in 1999.

Its print applications such as Illustrator and In Design fared less well, posting a 5 percent increase to $93.5 million. "That's primarily because those products have not been upgraded recently," said Warnock.

Adobe plans to institute "the strongest upgrade cycle in our history for the second quarter," said Warnock. The company will upgrade new versions of Illustrator, Go Live, In Design and Framemaker. It also plans to release Live Motion, an animation application.

"We recorded about 150,000 downloads of the (Live Motion) beta in the first ten days," he said "That's a good sign."