Veritas beats expectations

update The storage-software maker reports fourth-quarter earnings that top Wall Street expectations amid record sales.

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update Storage-software maker Veritas on Thursday reported fourth-quarter earnings that topped Wall Street expectations amid record sales.

The company logged a net loss of $49 million, or 12 cents per share, on revenue of $405 million for the three months ended Dec. 31. That compares with a net loss of $202 million, or 50 cents per share, on revenue of $374 million for the year-ago quarter.

Excluding accounting adjustments and other special items, the company posted earnings of 18 cents per share. Analysts were expecting earnings of 14 cents per share, according to the consensus estimate from tracking firm First Call.

"What we saw was an absolutely stellar fourth quarter," CEO Gary Bloom said in an interview. Although the company still expects a dip in sales for the current quarter compared with last quarter, Bloom said his "optimism toward 2003 has improved" since the last earnings conference call.

Bloom said the company has recently revamped nearly all its products and has added support for the AIX and Linux operating systems, which could help the company gain market share this year. "I do think 2003, especially the second half, is lining up for some interesting revenue opportunities."

The company forecast revenue of $370 million for the current quarter, with earnings per share, before charges and other special items, of about 13 cents per share.

"While full-year results remain difficult to project, we expect relatively flat Q1 to Q2 results and continue to believe that the second half of 2003 could line up to generate some positive revenue and earnings momentum," the company said in a statement.

Veritas said earlier this month that it plans to restate earnings for much of the past three years to change the way it accounted for transactions with AOL Time Warner.