ClickSoftware (Nasdaq:CKSW), which makes software for service industries, on Thursday said it would report a steeper fourth-quarter loss than forecast because its customers had made last-minute decisions to defer information technology investments.

The Campbell, California-based company said it would lose 20 cents per share in the fourth quarter on revenues of $3.1 million, missing by a large margin analysts' consensus forecast for a loss of 6 cents per share.

The company also said Robert Spina, its vice president of sales for North America, was leaving the firm.

"During the last several days of the quarter, several companies which were in contract negotiations to purchase ClickSoftware's products decided to defer their purchasing decisions," said Moshe BenBassat, ClickSoftware's chief executive. He blamed the fizzled sales on customers' concerns about the slowing economy.

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Software companies tend to close sales at the end of the quarter because customers have learned that they often can gain negotiating power when commission-based sales people are trying to wrap up deals to hit quarterly targets.

ClickSoftware also said it reduced fourth-quarter revenues to reflect the anticipated cancellation of a contract one customer signed in September. BenBassat said the cancellation was due to changes in customer's internal operations.

The company also revised its fiscal 2000 forecast to reflect a net loss of 58 cents per share on revenues of about $15.7 million. Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial had expected the company to lose 40 cents in fiscal 2000.