Business Objects (BOBJ) more than quadrupled its net income in the first quarter, but sales of new software licenses were up an anemic 1%, the company reported early Thursday.

In recent trading, shares of the French business intelligence software vendor were off $1.03, or 3.8%, to $26.31.

Net income in the March quarter jumped from $3.3 million, or 4 cents a share a year ago, to $15 million, or 16 cents a share.

Revenue was up 15% to $248.8 million.

Excluding items, the company earned a profit of 24 cents per share, well above the company's earlier guidance of 19 cents to 22 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting a profit of 22 cents a share on revenue of $238.63 million.

Services revenue totaled $133.6 million in the first quarter, up 30% year-over-year, primarily on the strength of maintenance revenue, which is essentially prepaid license fees and a good indicator of customer loyalty and ongoing business. Overall deferred revenue, which will be recognized ratably, was up $10 million since the December quarter to $210.1 million, the highest level in the company's history.

Speaking informally, an analyst who asked not to be identified said, "These guys

Wall Street's sell-side analysts don't understand the importance of maintenance revenue. It is a commitment from current customers to stick with the vendor and not jump. It is proof the customers trust the company and the product road map."

Looking to the second quarter, the company expects to earn a pro forma profit of 26 cents to 28 cents a share on revenue ranging from $250 million to $255 million. Analysts were projecting revenue of $249 million and a profit of 26 cents.

For the full year, total revenue is expected to range from $1.01 billion to $1.04 billion, with a pro forma profit of $1.07 a share to $1.17 a share. Wall Street was projecting a profit of $1.11 a share with revenue of $1.02 billion.