STOCKS TO WATCH: Autodesk, BEA Systems and Sun

3 min read

Expect the following technology stocks to be among Friday's most actively traded issues: Autodesk, BEA Systems and Sun Microsystems.

  • Autodesk (Nasdaq: ADSK)

    Autodesk should come out smoking Friday after the maker of computer-aided design software easily topped analysts estimates in its fourth quarter and raised sales estimates for its first quarter and fiscal 2001.

    Autodesk pocketed $32 million, or 57 cents a share, on sales of $243 million in the quarter.

    Analysts were expecting a profit of 52 cents a share.

    The stock closed up 6 cents to $33.13 ahead of the earnings report before moving up to $35.25 in after-hours trading.

    In the year-ago quarter, it earned $29 million, or 48 cents a share, on sales of $226.7 million.

    Company executives said they now expect first-quarter sales of between $240 million and $250 million. For 2002, the company expects sales to be between $1.025 billion and $1.065 billion, compared with analysts' current estimates of $1.01 billion.

  • BEA Systems (Nasdaq: BEAS)

    This one figures to provide some interesting theater considering it topped analysts' estimates in its fourth quarter, raised its earnings estimates for fiscal 2002 and left its lofty sales targets unchanged.

    Yet, the stock got worked over in after-hours trading, falling to $35.72 after closing off $3.88 to $41.94 in the regular session.

    In the quarter, it earned $43.6 million, or 10 cents a share, on sales of $256 million.

    First Call Corp. consensus pegged the e-business software developer for a profit of 9 cents a share on sales of $251.8 million.

    CEO Bill Coleman told analysts to expect a higher mix of licensing sales in fiscal 2002, resulting in an additional 3 cents to 4 cents a share in earnings in fiscal 2002. It now expects to earn between 39 cents and 41 cents a share in the fiscal year.

    First Call Corp. consensus was expecting a profit of 37 cents a share on sales of $1.2 billion.

    Analysts said the stock's sharp decline after the bell is likely a reaction to BEA Systems missing the so-called "whisper" sales estimate of slightly more than $260 million.

    Company executives said services sales would represent a smaller percentage of the company's sales in fiscal 2002. Coleman said the company now expects an additional $40 million to $50 million in license sales this year, bringing the total to around $687 million.

  • Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW)

    Sun is always among the most active technology stocks, but it will be even more active Friday after it warned that sales and earnings in its third quarter would fall well short of analysts' estimates.

    The company lowered its sales growth forecast to between 10 percent and 13 percent for the current quarter, down from the near 30 percent growth that Wall Street had expected.

    The stock fell to $18.91 in after-hours trading after finishing the regular session up $1.19 to $20.81.

    Chief Financial Officer Michael Lehman said that Sun's gross margin would decline by 2-3 percentage points from the second quarter to about 45 percent.

    Earnings per share will come in between 7 cents and 9 cents a share in the quarter, well below the First Call Corp. estimate of 15 cents a share.

    Sun executives said corporations in a range of industries were slowing their spending plans, leading Sun to cut its short-term outlook.