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Siebel Systems tops 2Q estimates

Continued strong sales growth drove Siebel Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: SEBL) to another round of better than expected earnings.

The vendor of front office applications posted second quarter net income of 24 cents a share, or $25.8 million. First Call's survey of 14 analysts predicted earnings of 21 cents a share for the quarter ended June 30.

Second quarter sales rose 83 percent year-over-year, to $164.4 million from $90 million. Second quarter profits gained 115 percent from $12 million, or 100 percent on a per share basis from 12 cents.

License fees went up 63 percent year-over-year, and comprised two-thirds of total revenue. Services, maintenance and consulting went up 140 percent over the same period, and increased as a percentage of revenue to 33.1 percent, compared to 25.2 percent a year earlier.

Although other companies -- notably Oracle, which last month said its front-office software business is growing faster than anyone else's -- have been mentioned as eventual challengers to Siebel's top spot in the market for sales and customer service applications, Siebel continues to see little or no competition for contracts, Siebel executives said during a conference call with analysts.

Shares of Siebel dropped 5 1/16 to 58 7/16 in Tuesday's trading prior to the earnings report. Of 14 analysts surveyed by Zack's Investment Research, nine recommend Siebel as a "strong buy", five rate the stock a "moderate buy", and one maintains the equivalent of a "strong sell" rating.