Shares of software developer Citrix Systems ( CTXS) rose Tuesday after Lehman Brothers upgraded the stock based on the company's raised guidance. Lehman upped the stock to overweight from equal weight and raised its fourth-quarter profit forecast to 12 cents a share on $125 million in revenue, from a previous forecast of 11 cents and $118 million. For fiscal 2003, Lehman now expects the company to earn 56 cents a share on $498 million in revenue, compared with prior estimates of 50 cents and $486 million. The brokerage also raised its price target to $15 from $7, implying a valuation of 25 times projected 2003 earnings. "We view such a preannouncement so early in the quarter as extraordinary and a potentially positive precursor for the infrastructure software sector as we move through what is normally a seasonally stronger fourth quarter," wrote analyst Israel Hernandez in a research note. "Our upgrade reflects our expectation that Citrix shares should outperform over the near term, irrespective of the overall direction of the tech market." The stock was up $1.29, or 11.3%, at $12.74 in recent Nasdaq trading. Heading into Tuesday's session, Citrix was up about 130% since hitting a 52-week low of $4.70 back on July 9 of this year.
On Monday, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company raised its fourth-quarter earnings outlook, but said that "continuing uncertainty" in information-technology spending persists. The company expects to post a net profit of 12 cents to 17 cents a share, excluding the amortization of goodwill related to acquisitions. Wall Street analysts were expecting the company to earn 12 cents a share, according to a poll conducted by Thomson Financial/First Call. Total revenue for the quarter ended Dec. 31 is targeted between $120 million and $130 million, ahead of the consensus estimate of $118.1 million. "While Citrix is not out of the woods long term, the last two quarters of data suggest a bottoming in Citrix's core business," Hernandez said. The company's president and chief executive officer, Mark Templeton, is scheduled to make a presentation at the CSFB Technology Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., Wednesday afternoon. Other top-level executives will be making presentations at conferences in Europe between Dec. 3 and Dec. 5.