Fourth-quarter profit at IT security specialist Vasco Data Security International ( VDSI) rose 70%, beating analysts' estimates.

Net income for the fourth quarter of 2007 was $5.1 million, or 13 cents a share, compared with $3 million, or 8 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were expecting $4.16 million or 8 cents a share.

Revenue for the quarter ended Dec. 31 grew 44% over the same time last year to to $25.2 million; analysts had expected $25.7 million.

Shares of Vasco were recently up 85 cents, or 5.6%, to $16.

Vasco has been one of the few IT security companies that has found investor favor recently. The stock has run up 31.5% in the last three months.

The company won 470 new customers in the fourth quarter, of which 95 were banks and 375 were enterprise security customers. In the year to date, new customers included 233 new banks and 1,320 enterprise security customers.

Vasdco shipped about 3.8 million Digipasses, its IT security authentication product, in the fourth quarter, an increase of 57% over the number of Digipasses shipped in the same periods of 2005.

"The figures speak for themselves. We are the absolute market leader in authentication," said T Kendall Hunt, chairman and CEO of Vasco. Vasco competes with RSA Security, a division of EMC ( EMC), and Entrust ( ENTU).

Vasco said its current backlog for orders to be shipped in the first quarter is $23.6 million, an increase of $10.8 million or 84% from the backlog for first quarter 2006.

For 2007, Vasco said it expects revenue to grow 35% to 45%, suggesting revenue of $103.5 million to $111 million. Analysts were expecting revenue of $109.3 million.

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