Shares of



plunged Thursday after the company reported a quarterly loss that reflected a soured investment and a product delay, and predicted an earnings and revenue shortfall for the year.

Recently, shares were down $7.24 to $15.24 on the

New York Stock Exchange


Bear Stearns also downgraded NDCHealth to underperform from peer perform, citing its "second straight quarter of reduced revenue guidance."

Including charges, the Atlanta-based company lost $3.7 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with earnings of $11.2 million, or 31 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. The lion's share of the charge was a $14.9 million writedown primarily for its investment in MedUnite.

Before the items, the company earned $11.2 million, or 33 cents a share, in the latest quarter. That matched analysts' forecasts.

Revenue was $109 million, compared with $89.3 million a year ago. "A product delay in our physician business unit and HIPAA related system freezes among selected customers caused revenues to be lower than our expectation," said NDCHealth's CEO Walter Hoff.

Looking to full-year 2003, NDCHealth expects to earn $1.34 to $1.39 a share on revenue of $430 million to $435 million, excluding charges. Analysts had expected the company to earn $1.40 a share on $445 million of revenue, on average. The company itself had previously predicted full-year revenue of $440 million to $450 million.

NDCHealth provides health information systems to pharmacies, hospitals and physicians.