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BEA Systems Falls Sharply on Analyst Caution


Shares of

BEA Systems


took a beating this morning after

Prudential Securities


Wit Soundview

issued cautious reports on the maker of e-commerce infrastructure software.

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Its shares lately tumbled $9.88, or 18.41%, to $43.81 in



Prudential analyst John McPeake slashed his price target on shares of the San Jose, Calif.-based company to $85 from $100, citing a risk from the slowdown in software spending, but maintained his strong buy rating.

In his note, McPeake said he does not believe his earnings estimates are at risk, but added that due to "evidence of potential cutbacks in software development projects," he believes "there is less potential for upside" and that positive revisions of his outlook are less likely.

Wit Soundview reduced its full-year 2002 earnings estimates on the company this morning to 35 cents a share from 37 cents. Twenty-two analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

are calling for earnings of 37 cents a share in 2002, up from an estimate of 24 cents a share in 2001.