Updated from 5 PM ET

Maybe

Tibco Software

(TIBX)

should get an "A" for effort. For actual results, though, its marks are anything but high.

After turning in first quarter results that beat lowered expectations, the integration software maker said it'll try to do better next time. But that was about all it said.

"For guidance for Q2, our goal is to do better," said Paul Hansen, Tibco's CFO. "But at this time, we believe the economy will continue to cause delays in IT spending."

Analysts asked if Hansen could elaborate.

"We remain focused on increasing our presence and growing our revenues," Hansen said.

"But at this time with the economic backdrop

being uncertain it's very difficult for us, and it would be foolish for us to pretend that we have more insight into the market than the other companies you've been talking to."

In other words, no one knows what's going on, except that spending has dried up and that it probably won't get better for a while. That was as much clarity as Tibco was willing to lend. Hey, you gotta respect the honesty.

The Palo Alto, Calif.,-based integration-software maker said it earned $12.4 million, or 6 cents a share on revenue of $82.1 million. That's a penny below the 7 cents a share in earnings and $98 million in revenue that analysts were expecting prior to the company's March 7 warning, but it is double the 3 cents they were expecting after reducing their estimates, according to

Multex.com

.

A year ago, Tibco reported $42 million in revenue and 1 penny in earnings per share.

When it warned two weeks ago, Tibco sang what has now become a familiar tune to software investors: It had trouble closing big deals near the end of its quarter, and overseas sales were softer than expected.

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

, the world's second-largest software company, said the same thing when it reported its own disappointing numbers last week.

Both company's warnings sent most software companies' shares lower. Analysts are now starting to see some differentiation within the software sector, though, and think some companies may start doing better than others.

"Companies that have specific strategies for pricing or are aimed at vertical markets are having problems delivering numbers in this slow economic environment," says analyst Ken Kiarash at

Buckingham Research Group

. "Several large deals didn't close at the end of their quarter." (Kiarash has an accumulate rating on Tibco, and his firm hasn't done underwriting for the company.)

As has been the case for all software companies, analysts were looking to Tibco's guidance for the rest of its fiscal year, which ends in November, for further insight. But CFO Hansen wasn't biting, and they didn't get it. The most the company said was that "a couple" of the deals that got pushed out of its first quarter had now been closed in March.

Analysts have already taken down their earnings estimates for the company; their consensus is now 19 cents in earnings per share for the full year, compared with the 32 cents they had been expecting prior to Tibco's warning.

Analysts wanted to see the company take down its financial guidance for the full fiscal year so that it can more easily meet expectations.

"It's not that people aren't buying stuff. Oracle missed its numbers, but they still did $2.7 billion in revenue last quarter," says Gibbs Moody, an analyst with

Gerard Klauer Mattison

who has a neutral rating on the Tibco. "It's just a question of setting expectations so you can beat them. These guys have nothing to lose and everything to gain by setting the bar low." (His firm hasn't done underwriting for Tibco.)

To this point, investors have been lowering the bar for them.

Tibco's stock has plummeted 85% since Jan. 24. And despite a mild selloff in its shares after it warned, the stock sank 91 cents, or 10.1%, to $8.03 in regular session trading Thursday before its earnings announcement. After announcing its results, though, shares rose to $9 on

Island

ECN.