BMC Software

(BMCS)

Thursday reported third-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street's expectations by a nickel.

The systems software vendor earned $58.8 million, or 24 cents a share, down 44% from the year-ago period. The earnings numbers a one-time gain and exclude special charges and amortization. Fourteen analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

were calling for the company to earn 19 cents in the period.

Revenue fell 10% from a year ago, to $385.5 million.

The prospects of the mainframe software business for 2001 have been complicated by fears that corporations are becoming more selective about the money they spend on information technology. But few stocks have been hotter lately than BMC's. It has soared around 70% since the company said on Jan. 3 that it would report better-than-expected revenue for its fiscal third quarter. Meanwhile, news that

IBM's

(IBM) - Get Report

new G7 Freeway mainframe system was shipping in volumes above plan has bolstered the confidence of already optimistic investors.

Shares of BMC soared $4.69, or 18.3%, to $30.31 during regular

Nasdaq

trading, but fell to $29.69 in recent after-hours

Island

activity.