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Autodesk Swings To 1Q Profit On Robust International Growth; Shares Up

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Autodesk Inc. (ADSK) swung to a fiscal first-quarter profit following year-earlier charges as the design-software company posted better-than-expected results on robust international growth. Shares rose 3.1% to $31.25 in after-hours trading. While sales slumped amid global economic weakness, the maker of the popular AutoCAD design software used by engineers and architects has stayed profitable by cutting costs. On Wednesday, Autodesk reported its first year-to-year increase in sales after five quarterly declines. "Over the past several quarters we have been positioning the company to participate in the eventual global recovery," said President and Chief Executive Carl Bass. He did express some concern regarding the uncertainty of the European economy. Sales growth abroad more than offset a 1% decline in the Americas. For the quarter ended April 30, Autodesk posted a profit of $36.9 million, or 16 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $32.1 million, or 14 cents a share. Excluding prior-year write-downs and other items, earnings rose to 29 cents from 18 cents while revenue increased 11% to $474.6 million. In February, the company projected earnings of 18 cents to 23 cents on revenue of $420 million to $440 million. License revenue, which makes up more than half of the company's total, grew 15%, while maintenance revenue jumped 6.9%. Looking ahead, Autodesk sees earnings for the current quarter of 23 cents to 28 cents a share on revenue of $435 million to $460 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected 26 cents and $443 million, respectively. Ahead of the results, Janney Capital Markets said the demand environment remains weak. The firm said engineers and architects are difficult to hire, leading companies to hold onto them and their software licenses through the downturn, meaning many can absorb the upturn with current staff levels. Thus, Janney said they won't be buying much new software from Autodesk until demand improves significantly. Janney did tout the company's favorable franchise, saying competitors have weakened. Besides AutoCAD, Autodesk's products include geographic-information-systems packages for mapping and precision drawing software for drafting. The company also develops multimedia tools for digital content creation, including applications for animation, film editing and creating special effects. -By John Kell, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2480; john.kell@dowjones.com

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