Nice Systems' profit tops estimates

Nice Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: NICE) reported earnings Wednesday of 46 cents a share for its third quarter, topping First Call's expectation of 43 cents a share.

Shares in the provider of digital recording and quality management software closed at 34 1/16 Tuesday, near their 52-week high of 34 1/4.

Revenue rose 55 percent to a record high of $32 million compared with $20.6 million for the third quarter of 1998. Net income also reached a record high of $5.7 million, compared with $1.5 million in the same quarter of last year.

The company said results reflect growth in all its business and financial areas, especially from sales of its quality management products, which have almost tripled over the past three quarters. Nice said now that it has established leadership in the high-end quality market, it plans to target the small- to medium-sized market with its new software, launched last week.

For the second consecutive quarter, gross margin continued to improve and reached 57.9 percent. Operating profit was $4.3 million, or 13.6 percent of sales, compared with nominal operating profit in the third quarter of last year.