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Portal posts Q4 profit

    Portal Software (Nasdaq: PRSF) reached profitability faster than analysts expected.

    After market close Tuesday, the provider of customer service and billing software for communications companies reported fiscal fourth quarter net income of $400,000, or breakeven on a per-share basis. First Call's survey of 11 analysts predicted a loss of two cents per share for the quarter ended Jan. 31, and did not forecast a profit for Portal until the third quarter of fiscal 2001.

    The company has beaten analyst consensus estimates every quarter since going public last year.

    Shares of Portal rose to as high as 81 in afterhours activity. The stock closed Tuesday's regular trading at 73 9/16, down 3 5/16 amid a broad decline for Nasdaq stocks.

    Fourth quarter revenue for Portal increased to $39 million, a 252 percent year over year and 39 percent sequentially. The company saw growth in all areas, Portal executives said.

    Portal's operations lost $2.1 million, far smaller than the $5 million to $6 million loss predicted by Wall Street analysts, CFO Jack Acosta said. Interest income of about $3 million boosted Portal's bottom line. "When you have $200 million in cash, it generates a lot of interest," CEO John Little told ZDII.

    In the fourth quarter, Portal focused on DSL companies, wireless companies and international expansion. "All three of those went very well," Little said.

    First quarter objectives call for penetrating the markets for the cable Internet access companies, application service providers, and continued drive into wireless, executives said.

    For the full year, Portal lost $7.6 million, or 5 cents per share, on revenue of $103 million.

    All 11 analysts polled by Zack's Investment Research recommend Portal with some sort of "buy" rating.>