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Sapient misses lowered estimates

Sapient posted a wider-than-expected loss in its first quarter Thursday, losing $6.2 million, or 5 cents a share, on sales of $109.1 million.

First Call consensus pegged the technology consultant to lose 4 cents a share on sales of $125.2 million.

Sapient (Nasdaq: SAPE) shares closed off 88 cents to $12.12 ahead of the earnings report before falling to $11.79 in after-hours trading.

The $109.1 million in sales marks a 9 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it earned $12.7 million, or 10 cents a share, on sales of $100.3 million.

"While we are satisfied that our results were in line with previous guidance, it is clearly a challenging market and our financial performance reflects that," said Chief Executive Officer Edward Goldfinger in a prepared release. "The combination of our strong balance sheet and the restructuring actions we took will allow us to continue to invest in our core strategic initiatives."

Earlier in the quarter, Sapient warned that it would fall short of analysts' sales and earnings estimates in the quarter. It also announced it would lay off 720 employees, roughly 20 percent of its work force. Those layoffs resulted in a one-time restructuring charge of $47.3 million this quarter.

Including one-time charges, Sapient posted a net loss of $48.3 million, or 39 cents a share, compared with a net profit of $11.9 million, or 9 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Last quarter, it posted a profit of 10 cents a share on sales of $139.1 million.

Its shares moved up to a 52-week high of $74.53 in August before tumbling to a low of $5.23 in April.

Fifteen of the 26 analysts tracking the stock rate it a "hold."