CheckFree ( CKFR) posted a sharp jump in first-quarter net income, surpassing Wall Street's expectations, amid strength in its electronic commerce business.

CheckFree also offered a second-quarter earnings projection above analysts' current estimate, while reiterating its full-year forecast.

The Atlanta-based e-commerce company said net income for the quarter ended Sept. 30 rose to $26.4 million, or 28 cents a share, from $6.2 million, or 7 cents a share, a year earlier.

Underlying earnings -- which exclude amortization and stock options -- rose to $43.1 million, or 46 cents a share, from $26.9 million, or 29 cents a share, a year earlier. The underlying earnings handily beat Thomson First Call's mean analyst estimate of 39 cents.

The results also topped CheckFree's September projection for underlying earnings of 37 cents to 39 cents a share, and earnings under generally accepted accounting principles of 18 cents to 21 cents a share.

Revenue rose to $215.8 million from $177.8 million. Analysts' average forecast called for a top line of $205 million.

"First quarter performance was fueled by strong electronic billing and payment transaction growth, better-than-expected software sales and delays in investment spending now slated to start later in the year," said Chief Financial Officer David Mangum in a statement.

For the second quarter, CheckFree predicts underlying earnings of 40 cents to 42 cents a share and GAAP earnings of 33 cents to 36 cents a share. The company targets revenue of $210 million to $215 million. Wall Street sees underlying earnings of 39 cents and revenue of $210 million.

CheckFree also backed its Sept. 2 projection for fiscal 2006 underlying earnings of $1.50 to $1.54 a share -- bracketing analysts' estimate of $1.53 -- and GAAP earnings per share of $1.08 to $1.13.

Still, CheckFree shares fell in after-hours trading, recently changing hands at $38, down 80 cents, according to INET.

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