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i2 sales, earnings to beat estimates

The software maker delivers a rare piece of good news, telling investors that fourth-quarter sales and operating income will top analysts' estimates.

    i2 Technologies delivered a rare piece of good news after the bell Monday, telling investors that its fourth-quarter sales and operating income will easily top analysts' estimates.

    i2 shares closed up $1.19 to $41.94 ahead of the news.

    Company executives now expect the business-to-business software developer to record fourth-quarter sales of at least $370 million, well above the First Call/Thomson Financial consensus estimate of $343 million.

    It also sees operating income "strongly exceeding" analysts' estimates of $51 million in the quarter.

    Licensing sales for the quarter and fiscal 2000 are expected to more than double from the year-ago period mainly on the strength of the company's e-business software sales.

    First Call pegged i2 for a profit of 8 cents a share in the fourth quarter.

    "It looks like more good news and I expect there will be even more good news from B2B guys this quarter," said Bob Johnson, an analyst at ABN AMRO. "I think a lot of companies had use-it or lose-it ultimatums in their budgets and they used it."

    i2's sales for fiscal 2000 are now expected to eclipse the $1.1 billion threshold.

    "I'm not at all surprised by this," Johnson said. "Even though IT spending is supposed to decline in 2001, i2 and other B2B stocks are among the best places to be this year."

    Last quarter, i2 beat the Street, earning $28.8 million, or 12 cents a share, on sales of $319.5 million.

    The stock moved as high as $111.75 in March before falling to a low of $34.50 in December.

    Thirty-two of the 36 analysts following the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

    Analysts are forecasting a profit of 34 cents a share in fiscal 2001.