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Siebel revenue drifts downward

The software maker says that third-quarter revenue came in slightly below analyst estimates, declining about 10 percent from the same period last year.

Software maker Siebel Systems said Thursday that third-quarter revenue came in slightly below analyst estimates, declining about 10 percent from the same period last year.

In the quarter ended Sept. 30, Siebel expects to post earnings of 3 cents per share, excluding certain charges, on $320 million to $322 million in revenue. While the company hit earnings-per-share targets, a survey of analysts on First Call had expected $328.4 million in third-quarter revenue from Siebel. The San Mateo, Calif.-based company reported $357.2 million in third-quarter revenue last year.

Siebel said it has completed the layoffs it announced in July after posting declining second-quarter revenue. At the time, the company said it would cut 490 jobs by October, leaving the company with a 5,000-person staff. On an analyst call Thursday, executives said Siebel's work force now stands at 4,984 people, which is 900 fewer than at the start of the year.

"I think the business is streamlined; we have taken the excess out of it," CEO Tom Siebel said. "We're lean and mean and ready to go to market and get the job done."

The company said third-quarter software license revenue was between $109 million and $110 million, down 14 percent from $126.8 million in the same quarter last year. Software license revenue is viewed on Wall Street as a barometer of how well a software company's core products are selling.

Executives said service revenue, including revenue from maintenance contracts, had declined but that the size of the average software contract in terms of revenue had increased, excluding the very smallest contracts.

Including restructuring and other charges, the company expects a loss for the quarter of 12 cents per share. Siebel said it had more than $2 billion in cash and investments and no debt as of Sept. 30.

Siebel, which makes business software designed to streamline corporate sales, marketing and customer service, plans to further discuss its finances on Oct. 15.