Updated from March 18 Adobe Systems ( ADBE) more-than doubled fiscal first quarter earnings vs. a year ago on a nearly 43% jump in revenue, handily blowing by Wall Street's top- and bottom-line estimates. The company also raised its guidance for the full year after the close Thursday. Early Friday, Adobe shares were recently up $2.56, or 7%, to $38.83. Under generally accepted accounting principles, San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe reported net income of $123 million, or 50 cents a share, in the first quarter, which ended March 5. That compared to net income of $54.2 million, or 23 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. Excluding an investment loss from the company's venture arm, Adobe said its pro forma earnings totaled $123.8 million, or 50 cents a share, in the first quarter, compared to pro forma net income of $58.9 million, or 25 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 42.6% to $423.3 million from $296.9 million a year earlier and 18% from $358.6 million in the previous quarter. Wall Street analysts expected Adobe, maker of the Acrobat publishing format, to earn pro forma net income of 40 cents a share on $395.2 million in revenue in the first quarter, according to Thomson First Call. The company's targets for GAAP and non-GAAP earnings called for a range of 36 to 42 cents a share. Adobe attributed its outperformance to strong global revenue from its new Create Suite, which combines such products as Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat Professional, as well as record revenue from its Intelligent Documents business. That business includes Acrobat and products that automate forms and document-intensive business processes. Adobe launched its Creative Suite globally during the first quarter. Looking forward, Adobe expects second-quarter revenue to range from $365 million and $385 million and second-quarter GAAP and non-GAAP earnings to range from 33 cents to 39 cents a share. Analysts were expecting earnings of 34 cents a share on $366.5 million in revenue.
For fiscal 2004, Adobe increased its revenue target to a range of $1.475 billion to $1.5 billion, from $1.425 billion, with GAAP and non-GAAP earnings ranging between $1.40 and $1.46 a share. Analyst estimates were pegging fiscal 2004 revenue at $1.474 billion and earnings at $1.37 a share. "It's clear that there are significant opportunities ahead of us, not only through this year but more importantly through the outer years," CEO Bruce Chizen said in a post-close conference call. Adobe officials said the adoption cycle of Creative Suite should last longer than it has for previous products. The Adobe board of directors also declared this quarter's cash dividend of 1.25 cents a share "I was very, very happy with the call," Standard & Poor's equity analyst Scott Kessler said after the conference call. Investors have been underestimating Adobe's growth prospects, he said, noting that before Thursday's climb, the stock was trading at about 25 times the company's updated 2004 earnings guidance. "I think a lot of people are under appreciating the potential of Acrobat, and there was a lot of skepticism about the company migrating Acrobat to an enterprise offering," he said. "There was a lot of uncertainty about how successful the Creative Suite would be." Over the next three to five years, Kessler projected Adobe could generate annual EPS growth of 16% to 18%. He has a buy rating on the stock and his firm doesn't do investment banking.