CA lowers 2003 forecast citing delayed recovery

Computer Associates International (CA) has posted a slight operating profit in its quarter result. Chief executive officer Sanjay...

Computer Associates International (CA) has posted a slight operating profit in its quarter result. Chief executive officer Sanjay Kumar attributed to deferred revenue generated through subscription software sales.

CA reported an operating profit of $12m (£7.7m), or two cents per share, beating the break-even consensus forecast of analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call.

Revenue for the quarter was $765m (£489m) as calculated under US accounting standards, (GAAP), up 7% from the same quarter a year ago, while CA's net loss totalled $65m (£41.5), compared with its $342m net loss last year.

CA made an accounting and business model change in late 2000, and this quarter is the first time the company has not provided a pro forma report on its financial operations alongside its GAAP-compliant report.

In its financial reports last year, CA emphasised its pro forma calculations, noting that its accounting change rendered its current GAAP results difficult to compare with historical GAAP results. CA's pro forma results often differed significantly from its GAAP results: In the quarter last year, the company reported $1.44bn in pro forma revenue and $323m in net operating income.

But as CA's accounting practices drew criticism and became the subject of a federal probe, the company began downplaying its pro forma reports and encouraging investors and analysts to focus on its GAAP results.

CA has turned documents over to federal investigators and answered follow-up questions from them, Kumar said.

"We remain confident that when this process is over that people will find out the accounting was proper and consistent," he said.

Investor nervousness about the investigation is "weighing on" CA's stock price, Kumar said, which has dropped about 70% since the start of this year.

CA has also lowered its revenue forecast for its 2003 financial year, which ends 31 March 2003.

An economic recovery is taking longer than anticipated, the company said. CA now anticipates revenue of $3.1bn to $3.2bn, down from its earlier forecast of revenue between $3.2bn and $3.26bn. The revision will not affect CA's anticipated operating earnings, and no layoffs or major cost cutting are needed, Kumar said.

Customers are still not buying in anticipation of future needs, but are focusing instead on smaller deals to meet immediate needs, Kumar said. The storage market is soft, as is the services market, he said, while enterprise management and security software are driving CA's sales forecast for the coming year.

CA's services revenue has been dwindling for several quarters, and dropped this quarter to $65m (£42m), down from $83m in the same quarter a year ago. Kumar identified that market as a trouble spot for the company.

"We just absolutely have to do better in that business. We'll make some changes there," he said.

The European market has been stable for CA, Kumar said. International sales generated 36% of CA's revenue during the quarter.

"Europe for the most part has been the positive news for us, in holding its own," he said.

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