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License woes offset BEA revenue gains

Earnings at the Java server software maker just beat analysts' expectations, as it readies new products to boost license revenue.

BEA Systems reported a rise in quarterly revenue and earnings, slightly surpassing analysts' expectations, but license revenue fell compared to the previous year for the fourth straight quarter.

The infrastructure-software company said its revenue for its fourth fiscal quarter, which ended Jan. 31, rose 5 percent to almost $291 million. Its profit came in at $41.6 million, up 6 percent compared to the same period last year, according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Its earnings per share for the quarter were 11 cents, a penny more than analysts' expectations.

For the full fiscal year, BEA's revenue totaled $1.08 billion, a 7 percent increase, and its earnings per share were 32 cents, a 14 percent rise from last year.

Company chairman and CEO Alfred Chuang said the company's overall financial performance for the year was "solid" and the company had a strong quarter. However, he said the company needs to address its slipping revenue from software licenses, which fell 8 percent in the most recent quarter compared to the same period last year.

"Although we are pleased with the results, we believe we can do better, especially on license revenue," Chuang said.

BEA competes against IBM, as well as Oracle, Sun Microsystems and JBoss, in the very competitive market for Java-based middleware, which is software used to build and run business applications.

Chuang said the company's product lineup over the coming year and an expanded program to sell through value-added resellers will help spur new license growth, a closely watched indicator of financial health. He said corporate spending on software projects is spotty across various industries.

"There's nothing to draw me to the conclusion that things are 100 percent stable and everything is growing in a big way," he said.

Coming soon...
Chuang said that in the first half of the fiscal year, BEA will release a product, code-named Rip Curl, aimed specifically at the retail market. The server software will have built-in support for handling radio frequency ID (RFID) data.

BEA recently announced an edition of its WebLogic server software aimed at telecommunications operators.

Chuang also said the company is working on a new line of products sold under a separate product name. This "business process infrastructure software" will be based on BEA's current middleware but targeted at businesspeople rather than Java developers, he said.

Separately, BEA announced that its former chief financial officer, William Klein, has taken the position of executive vice president of business planning and development. Mark Dentinger has been promoted to chief financial officer. Both will report to Chuang.