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Design software stocks downgraded

Shares of leading computer-aided design software companies retreated Friday after BancBoston Robertson Stephens cut the stocks from "buy" to "long-term attractive" ratings. Structural Dynamics Inc. (Nasdaq: SDRC) took it the worst, down 12 percent.

Analyst Jennifer Smith said a freeze in spending budgets as well as a slowdown in the growth rate for some newer products were the main reasons for Friday's downgrades.

Structural Dynamics shares were off 2 7/16, or 12 percent, to 17 15/16. Autodesk Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) which edged past lowered first-quarter estimates, trimmed 7/16 to 26.

Autodesk was also cut by Merrill Lynch and Piper Jaffray.

In its first quarter, Autodesk earned $9 million, or 15 cents a share, on sales of $194.9 million.

Earlier this quarter, Autodesk warned analysts that its sales and earnings would fall well short of expectations.

First Call consensus originally expected the San Rafael, Calif. company to earn 40 cents a share in the quarter. Following the profit warning, that consensus estimate was lowered to 13 cents a share.

Company officials said customer-order delays were responsible for the disappointing quarter.

The $194.9 million in sales was 13 percent lower than the year-ago period when it made $33.6 million, or 56 cents a share, on sales of $222.9 million.

Among other CAD software developers cut Friday: Dassault Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: DASTY) fell 1 3/4 to 32 7/8; Parametric Technology Corp. (Nasdaq: PMTC) shed 3/32 to 13 19/32 and Tecnomatix Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: TCNOF) fell 1/2 to 16 3/4.