Despite a widening loss,

Novell

(NOVL)

beat second-quarter operating estimates on revenue growth.

Including charges relating to an accounting change, the business solutions provider posted a second-quarter loss of $173.5 million, or 48 cents a share, compared with a loss of $151.3 million, or 48 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. On a pro forma operating basis, the company earned 3 cents a share, compared to a loss of 3 cents a year ago.

On that basis, analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call had expected the company to post break-even results for the quarter.

Novell's revenue grew to $274 million from $241 million last year, at the upper range of previous guidance. The company said it slowed the "sharp decline" in consulting revenue seen for the last three quarters, and its revenue from both software and consulting remained relatively flat to the first quarter of this year. Novell hopes to achieve trending improvement in revenue through the second half of 2002.

Looking ahead, Novell expects to see revenue remain relatively flat in the third quarter, allowing the company to remain slightly profitable on an operating basis. Analysts are looking for EPS of about 2 cents a share.

Shares of Novell closed at $3.80 Thursday before the earnings release.