SAP Earnings Rise Sharply

It forecasts a 2005 profit that is in line with estimates.
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SAP's

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fourth-quarter earnings rose 29% from a year ago, and the German software company forecast double-digit license sales growth in 2005.

SAP earned $703 million, or $2.26 a share, in the quarter, compared with $546 million, or $1.76 a share, last year. Revenue rose 8% from last year to $3.12 billion. On a per-ADR basis, SAP earned about 56 cents a share in the most recent quarter, a penny better than expected.

In 2005, SAP expects to earn $6.11 to $6.24 a share, or $1.53 to $1.56 an ADR. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had been forecasting $1.54 an ADR for the year. SAP said it expects full-year software revenue to rise 10% to 12% from last year, while full-year 2004 pro forma operating margin should be flat to up half a percentage point.

License revenue rose 11% in all of 2004.

"With approximately $1.366 billion in fourth-quarter 2004 software revenue on a quarter-end U.S. dollar exchange-rate basis, SAP continued to gain worldwide share against its peer group," the company said in a statement.

"On a rolling four-quarter basis, the company's worldwide share against its peer group based on software revenue was 57% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2004, compared to 56% at the end of the third quarter of 2004 and 53% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2003," SAP said.

SAP shares fell 64 cents, or 1.6%, to $39.66 Wednesday morning.