Amid a whirlwind of M&A rumors in the software sector,

BMC Software

(BMC)

posted a 14% decline in fourth-quarter profits, sending shares sliding 5% in after-market trading.

During the quarter, the company recorded earnings of $83 million, or 45 cents a share, versus $97 million, or 50 cents, a year earlier.

Excluding items, earnings were of 64 cents per share, slightly higher than analysts expectation of 62 cents.

Revenue rose 3% to $479 million.

"BMC's Business Service Management platform saw unprecedented customer adoption and validation during the fiscal year, a trend which continued to strengthen even as the macro-economic picture worsened," Chairman and CEO Bob Beauchamp said in a statement.

Looking ahead, the company expects 2010 earnings in the range of $2.37 to $2.47 a share.

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