Internet consulting firm

Sapient

(SAPE)

issued an after-the-bell earnings forecast for the fourth-quarter that fell 2 cents below analysts' expectations.

The Cambridge, Mass., company said it expects fourth-quarter pro forma earnings of 10 cents a share, excluding amortization of intangibles, acquisition costs and stock-based compensation charges, compared with 8 cents a share last year. Twenty-six analysts on

First Call/Thomson Financial

produced a consensus estimate of 12 cents a share.

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Sapient expects fourth-quarter revenue of $139 million, compared with $81.8 million in last year's fourth quarter. Analysts on average called for revenue of $143.1 million. The company attributed the "slightly lower" estimates to "slower, more deliberate spending" by its large, global clients and reduced revenue from its dot-com clients. Dot-com revenue represented about 5% of estimated fourth-quarter revenue, the company said.

Sapient said it expects the financial performance for the first quarter of 2001 to be "approximately equal" to the fourth quarter of 2000. However, it projected better results for the remainder of 2001 and said it sees full-year 2001 revenue growth of about 25% to 30% over 2000 and earnings growth of about 25% over 2000. Analysts on average expect revenues of $508.3 million in 2000 and $714.6 million in 2001.

Sapient ended the trading day at $15.06, dropping $2.50, or 17.45%, on the

Nasdaq

. It recently fell sharply, to $10.48, in after-hours

Island

trading.