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Updated from 8:29 a.m. EST

BEA Systems


reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results Thursday as both revenue and net income jumped about 12% from a year earlier.

Contrary to what some analysts feared, BEA said first-quarter revenue could come in stronger than expected as momentum builds behind its new products.

BEA shares were recently up 51 cents, or 4%, to $13.45.

Under generally accepted accounting principles, San Jose, Calif.-based BEA Systems reported net income of $39.3 million, or 9 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, which ended Jan. 31. That compared with net income of $35 million, or 8 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding charges, BEA Systems said it booked pro forma net income of $42.8 million, or 10 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, compared with pro forma net income of $37.3 million, or 9 cents a share, a year earlier. That was a penny better than analysts' estimates gathered by Thomson First Call.

Revenue rose nearly 12% to $278.1 million from a year ago and climbed 10% sequentially, beating the consensus estimate of $267.3 million.

BEA, a maker of middleware that allows business software applications to work together, said license revenue rose to $143.1 million, up 6% from a year ago and up 12% sequentially. That exceeded the average estimate from six analysts, which called for $141.6 million in license revenue for the fourth quarter.

Looking ahead, BEA expects first-quarter revenue to range from $260 million to $270 million, with license revenue ranging from $127 million to $132 million. Analyst estimates pegged first-quarter revenue at $259.4 million, with license revenue at roughly $130 million.

The company did not give explicit earnings guidance but analysts said implied guidance called for earnings meeting the consensus estimate of 8 cents a share. In a telephone interview, CEO Alfred Chuang said the company is figuring earnings will come in slightly above that, in the 9-cent range. "We saw great momentum" in the fourth quarter, Chuang said.

About six months ago, amid tight competition from


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in its maturing application server space, BEA made a bet-the-farm move by expanding its core product into a platform that also includes integration, development tools and portals.

Investors had been disappointed by the lackluster results since then, but BEA offered some hints Thursday that integration finally may be taking off.

Integration sales climbed 40% sequentially to ring in at more than $30 million in the fourth quarter and more than $100 million in the fiscal year. Revenue from BEA's new platform, called WebLogic 8.1, accounted for 11% of sales.

"I would expect people would be somewhat encouraged by this

report," said Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Charlie Di Bona, who called the fourth quarter solid. "But the real acceleration of the company is in the second half of the calendar year."

That's because it will take until then to achieve wider adoption of BEA's new platform and spending to loosen up, explained Di Bona, who has an outperform rating on BEA. His firm doesn't do investment banking but its parent, Alliance Capital, holds BEA shares.

Piper Jaffray analyst David Rudow echoed that sentiment. "It's just kind of a waiting game right now," said Rudow, who projects adoption of BEA's new platform will begin showing substantial pickup in the second quarter, beginning in May. Rudow has an outperform rating on BEA and his firm has done banking with the company.

Although BEA highlighted strong integration numbers, Rudow said he still is not hearing of any sizable integration deal. "If I still hear of nothing in channel checks in

the second quarter, then I start getting worried," Rudow said.

Chuang said integration deals often get mixed in with other technology products. Meanwhile, a new product like WebLogic 8.1 typically takes four to five quarters to really take off, Chuang said. "I think we are seeing WebLogic 8.1 traction."

Also in the fourth quarter, BEA signed 26 deals worth more than $1 million each, five more than a year ago and a record for the company.

Fiscal year 2004 also marked the first time BEA's revenue crossed the $1 billion mark. Revenue reached $1.01 billion, an 8% increase from fiscal 2003. Net income for the year totaled $118.7 million on a GAAP basis, up 41% from $83.9 million in fiscal 2003. On a per-share basis, net income rose to 28 cents a share from 20 cents a year earlier.