American Software staggers in 4Q

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American Software closed out a forgettable fourth quarter Wednesday, posting a loss of $2.7 million, or 12 cents a share, on sales of $23.3 million.

First Call Corp. consensus predicted the provider of manufacturing and supply chain management software to lose 5 cents a share in the quarter. However, that figure was not revised after the company issued a profit warning last month.

At the time, American Software (Nasdaq: AMSWA) said it would post a loss of between $2.6 million to $3.1 million in the quarter on sales of around $23 million.

Its shares closed up 1/8 to 4 1/4 ahead of the earnings report.

Company officials blamed surprisingly low license fees and higher spending on the Amquest application infrastructure provider unit for the shortfall.

"This was a transitional year for American Software," said CEO James Edenfield in a prepared release. "While the impact of Y2K presented challenges, the launch of our new e-business solution suite gained industry recognition and AmQUEST, our Application Infrastructure Provider business unit, experienced strong sales success."

The $23.3 million in sales marks a 19 percent decline from the year-ago quarter when it earned $1.2 million, or 5 cents a share, on sales of $28.8 million.

For the fiscal year, American Software lost $1.2 million, or 6 cents a share, on sales of $105.5 million compared to a loss of $8.5 million, or 38 cents a share, on sales of $109.2 million in fiscal 1999.

Its shares peaked at 24 7/16 in March after falling to a low of 2 3/8 in October.

First Call Corp. consensus pegs it for a profit of 10 cents a share in fiscal 2001.