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The Learning Co. surpasses views

The educational software company beat third quarter views by a cent on the strength of its retail business.

The Learning Company today beat Wall Street consensus estimates for the third quarter by a penny on the continued strength of its retail software business.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based software firm earned $38.4 million, or 37 cents per share, excluding charges from its recently-completed merger with Broderbund, compared to $16.7 million or 25 cents a year ago. Analysts surveyed by First Call expected the company to earn 36 cents per share for the third quarter.

Including the Broderbund charges, The Learning Co. lost $21.2 million, or 24 cents per share in the quarter.

Chief executive Michael Perik said in a statement that the company now claims to be the "largest consumer software company in the country after Microsoft."

"The Learning Co. continues to experience strong growth in its retail software business with year-over-year dollar sell-through up 27 percent on a combined basis," Perik said.

Quarterly revenue jumped to $212.7 million from $141.7 million in the same period a year ago.

Shares fell 0.5 to 26 before the report was released after the bell today. The Learning Co.'s stock has traded as high as 32.8125 and as low as 13.7812 in the past 52 weeks.

In July, the company announced plans to buy Broderbund, another educational software maker, in a deal valued at $420 million. That deal came at the tail end of the company's buying frenzy, which included virtual pet software maker PF.Magic and Northern California-based Mindscape.

The Learning Co. produces consumer software "for the entire family," including education, reference, and family entertainment titles found under Sesame Street, Carmen Sandiego, National Geographic, as well as other brands.