Updated from 4:56 p.m. EST Siebel Systems ( SEBL) gave investors a dose of cheer after the close Friday, when the software vendor said its first-quarter results will hit the high end of its guidance, the company said in a regulatory filing. The company also indicated it is comfortable with estimates for the second quarter, which began Thursday. Shares of Siebel recently jumped 58 cents, or 4.7%, to $12.87 in after-hours trading after closing up 23 cents, or 1.9%, at $12.29 in regular trading. "The information technology environment is more predictable than it was," said an ever more slightly more upbeat CEO Tom Siebel on a post-close conference call. Siebel said he doesn't see any indicators of dramatically increasing growth in the information technology market this year. But "it's clearly getting better; it's clearly firming up," he added. The San Mateo, Calif.-based maker of customer relationship management software said it expects to earn net income of $27 million to $30 million, or 5 to 6 cents a share, on total revenue of $329 million in the first quarter, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Its guidance had called for earnings of 4 to 5 cents a share on revenue of $315 million to $335 million. The new forecast is roughly in line with analyst estimates gathered by Thomson First Call, which pegged first-quarter earnings at 5 cents a share on $330.9 million in revenue. Siebel said new license revenue will total $127 million, exceeding the company's guidance of $110 million to $125 million and representing 13% growth year over year. In terms of guidance, Siebel said the "estimates out there are pretty good" and he is comfortable with them. Analysts are currently forecasting Siebel earnings in the second quarter will ring in at 7 cents a share on $352.6 million in revenue.
Management said U.S. sales were particularly strong, up 26% year over year and 3% sequentially, while Siebel said there were reasons to be "cautiously optimistic" about business in Europe. In addition, Siebel is seeing the return of larger deals, with three transactions worth more than $5 million closing in the quarter vs. two a year ago. Management suggested the company is starting to enjoy the benefits of a major restructuring -- and layoffs -- last year, with expenses down $40 million compared to a year ago. The one cloud on the company's call was service revenue coming in a little light, which the company blamed on the number of holidays during the quarter.