Updated from Feb. 21

Shares of BEA Systems ( BEAS) were dropping in recent trading after the company said revenues would dip in the first quarter and would grow only slightly in the full year.

In recent trading, shares of the San Jose, Calif., applications-server software firm were down $2.01, or 12.7%, to $13.80.

The company reported fourth-quarter earnings Thursday that met analysts' expectations and with revenue slightly stronger than expected by Wall Street. But the company also said it expects a seasonal, sequential decrease in revenue in the first quarter to between $220 million and $225 million from the fourth quarter's $231.3 million.

The company expects sequential growth in the mid-single digits for the following quarter and then growth for the full year that is flat to 5% higher.

BEA said it earned $10.6 million, or 3 cents a share, on $231.3 million in revenue, including $137.9 million in software license fees in the fourth quarter, which ended in January. That compares with a loss of 23 cents a share on $219.6 million in revenue in the third quarter and a profit of 4 cents a share on $256 million in revenue in the same period a year ago.

Excluding certain items, BEA earned 7 cents a share, in line with the Wall Street estimates gathered by Thomson Financial/First Call. Analysts had expected revenue to come in at $224 million. The software maker earned pro forma earnings of 6 cents a share in the third quarter and 10 cents a share in the fourth quarter a year ago.

For the full year, BEA lost 9 cents a share on $975.9 million in revenue, compared with a profit of 4 cents a share on $819.8 million in revenue a year ago. On a pro forma basis, the company earned 32 cents a share, compared with 25 cents a year ago. For the full year, the consensus among analysts was for pro forma earnings of 31 cents a share on $969 million in revenue.

CEO Alfred Chuang said BEA completed more than 2,700 deals in the fourth quarter. That's down from 2,838 in the third quarter. However, it includes 18 deals worth more than $1 million --- two times the number completed in the third quarter.

In an interview after the earnings call, Chuang said that shift in deals completed reflects the salesforce's new focus on larger enterprise selling. this can go after the guidance:

CFO Bill Klein said the company is forecasting revenue for fiscal year 2003 to fall between $975 million and $1.025 billion and earnings to ring in between 31 cents and 33 cents a share.

"We're betting on a few things -- the economy and seasonality," Chuang said. "We are more confident about the second half of the year."

The company's guidance is largely in line with Wall Street estimates, which pegged first quarter revenue at $218 million and full-year earnings at 34 cents a share on revenue of $987 million.

Analysts said they believe the numbers could rise higher in the second half of the year. "I think they're assuming the economy stays roughly flat," said Ian Morton, a senior analyst with J.P. Morgan H&Q, who rates BEA a long-term buy.

Before results were released, shares of BEA fell 24 cents, or 1.5%, to finish at $15.81. In after-hours trading, shares were trading at $15.10, according to Instinet.

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