Automatic Data Processing
reported a drop in fourth-quarter earnings and missed analysts' expectations by 2 cents.
The company also provided an outlook for fiscal 2004 that, assuming minor improvement in the economy, would also fall short of Wall Street's consensus projection.
ADP earned $216.7 million, or 36 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $287.3 million, or 46 cents a share, in the prior-year period. Analysts were expecting 38 cents a share. Revenue was up 4% at $1.9 billion.
In fiscal 2004, the company expects to earn $1.50 to $1.60 a share on revenue growth in the mid-single digits. Analysts currently expect $1.62 a share on revenue of $7.3 billion. The company said its outlook reflects the effect of the weak economy on employer services and brokerage services.
For fiscal 2003, ADP earned $1.68 a share, down 4% from last year, on revenue of $7.1 billion.
Shares of Roseland, N.J.-based ADP were falling 3.3% in morning trading to $35.60.