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Computer Associates beats Street

Systems-management and business software giant Computer Associates beat analysts' second-quarter estimates, buoyed by strong sales of its flagship product, Unicenter.

Systems-management and business software giant Computer Associates (CA) today beat analysts' second-quarter estimates, buoyed by strong sales of its flagship product.

Citing sales of its Unicenter enterprise Computer Associates at a glance systems and network-management software package, CA reported net earnings of more than $271 million, or 72 cents per share, for the quarter, compared with $223 million, or 59 cents a share, a year ago.

Analysts expected CA to announce earnings of 69 cents per share, according to a consensus estimate compiled by First Call.

Revenues for the quarter reached $1.12 billion--a 22 percent increase over the same period last year.

CA closed the day on Wall Street to reach a 52-week high of 80-1/4, up 4 points over yesterday.

In conjunction with the announcement, CA said it has declared a three-for-two stock split for all outstanding shares of common stock. Total CA shares will increase from 365 million to approximately 547 million as a result.

CA makes database and business-oriented software, but its Unicenter product is what is driving growth, according to company officials. The product, a suite of systems and network-management tools for large corporate networks, is primed for success in one of the hottest spots in the software industry.

Gartner Group predicts the client/server-systems management market will grow from more than $4.7 billion this year to 9.4 billion by the year 2000.

"We believe the barriers to entry in this market are significant and Computer Associates remains the dominant vendor," noted Brian Skiba, analyst with Lehman Brothers. "Computer Associates enjoys the benefit of providing end-to-end solutions where customers can avoid interoperability issues when trying to seamlessly integrate two different systems."

Computer Associates recently has stepped up its Unicenter strategy, choosing to offer a set of basic services as a framework to reach ubiquity with the platform, according to industry observers.

The race for a larger piece of the systems, network, and applications management pie is fierce, with primary competitor Tivoli Systems, a subsidiary of IBM, gaining steam with the clout gained from its Big Blue affiliation.