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SAN FRANCISCO -- Shares of Autodesk (ADSK) - Get Autodesk Inc. Report plunged Friday after the company's fourth-quarter forecast sent Wall Street scrambling to reset its near-term expectations.

The stock was recently off more than 23% to $12.88, and it has now lost nearly three-quarters of its value in 2008.

The engineering-design software maker said late Thursday that in the current quarter it expected to earn 28 cents to 34 cents a share, before items, on revenue of $525 million to $550 million, shockingly below analysts' consensus estimate of EPS of 51 cents and revenue of $611.2 million.

Unsurprisingly, the company cited the "sharp downturn in the global economy," and suggested that reductions to its 7,300-strong workforce were on their way.

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On Friday, Wall Street took out the hammer, as a host of firms downgraded the stock and lowered their price targets. Credit Suisse was especially bold, cutting its target in half to $10.50 due to the nasty combination of lower demand across all geographies, as well as the credit crunch-induced delays from Autodesk customers already on the hook.

Needham also downgraded the stock to hold from buy, a less-than-fortuitous move considering the firm had reiterated its buy rating on Tuesday with a slightly lowered $27 price target, calling Autodesk a reasonably "safe port in a storm" stock that was unlikely to depreciate worse than the overall market.

Unfortunately, Autodesk investors are the ones getting rained on.