It's trimming time again in the software world. The latest victim:
, whose numbers were lowered by Goldman Sachs Wednesday following across-the-board software revisions this week from Thomas Weisel Partners and Lehman Brothers.
Shares of Siebel declined 2 cents, or 0.3%, to $6.66 in recent trading Wednesday after Goldman Sachs analyst Rick Sherlund revisited his estimates in the aftermath of
Oracle's results last week. Shares of German software maker
, whose numbers were trimmed Tuesday by Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Rob Schwartz, were down 44 cents, or 3.4%, to $12.51 in recent trading.
stood out Wednesday with a 14.1% rise in its share price to $15.65 after its CFO said Tuesday that the company's third quarter was on track with less than a week remaining.
Sherlund dropped Siebel from his recommended list after the company reported dismal second-quarter results, trimmed his numbers Wednesday on Siebel for the third quarter, 2002 and 2003. Sherlund reduced the third-quarter license-revenue estimate to $145 million from $160 million, compared with company guidance of between $145 million and $180 million and the average street estimate of $150 million. His third-quarter earnings estimate of 5 cents a share is a penny short of the consensus estimate gathered by Thomson Financial/First Call.
Sherlund reduced his fourth-quarter license estimate to $170 million from $200 million and 2003 license estimate to $675 million from $805 million, which reflects year-over-year declines in the first quarter, flat growth in the second quarter and a return to positive growth in the second half of the year. That revenue reduction accounts for slower economic growth than previously expected and results from the firm's recent IT survey forecasting IT spending growth of only 2% to 3% in 2003.
"It has been our view that 2003 estimates are likely too high for a number of tech names," Sherlund wrote in his note. His firm hasn't done any banking with Siebel.
Sherlund also reduced his 2003 earnings estimate for Siebel to 30 cents from 35 cents a share, forecast flat earnings in 2003, down from his prior estimate of earnings at 37 cents a share.
Sherlund said he believes it will be challenging for the company to close several larger deals that had created early optimism about the third quarter, though he suspects the company signed one agreement valued at roughly $20 million. But he said he believes the current stock price reflects apprehensions about the third quarter and slower 2003 growth.
Sherlund's note on Siebel came a day after Thomas Weisel's Schwartz lowered his ratings and estimates on SAP and
to attractive from buy and lowered estimates on
, while maintaining his attractive rating on PeopleSoft. His firm expects or intends to seek compensation from SAP and PeopleSoft in the next three months.
"Channel checks in September lead us to believe that the selling environment for software continues to worsen," Schwartz wrote in a note. "Furthermore, we are concerned that budgets for 2003 will be set with the state of the economy unsettled and the possibility of war looming."
On Monday, Lehman Brothers analyst Neil Herman lowered estimates on eight software names, including PeopleSoft, Veritas and
. Lehman has done banking business with BEA.
"Every incremental piece of data that we received suggests a continuing very tough IT spending environment," Herman wrote in a note. He said the December quarter is looking to be "quite anemic," while IT spending appears to be weakening in the largest IT consuming countries outside of the U.S., including Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Veritas may be a standout, however, as CFO Ken Lonchar reiterated third-quarter guidance Tuesday at the Banc of America Securities investors conference.