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MicroStrategy Turnover Draws Analyst Scrutiny

In October, MicroStrategy reported a $122 million profit for the quarter ending Sept. 30, up from a $24.4 million loss for the same period last year. Much of the improvement resulted from a one-time tax benefit of $103.6 million, but the company also projected $32.4 million to $48.1 million in profit for 2005.

Patrick E. Mason, a Pacific Growth Equities analyst, said he, too, was concerned about Saylor's added role, but he didn't think it would affect the company's stock performance. He maintained his favorable rating on the stock.

Michael J. Saylor, shown in a 2001 photo, cultivated an image as a high-flying technology executive in the 1990s but has kept a low profile in recent months. (Susan Biddle -- The Washington Post)

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"I think Eric Brown is going for the money," Mason said.

Brown's compensation package at McAfee, including bonuses, tops out at $2.5 million a year, according to a McAfee filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Brown made roughly $464,000 last year at MicroStrategy.

Bill Chatterton, a spokesman for MicroStrategy, said company officials were happy for Brown and that "he had a great deal of impact in turning MicroStrategy around." He declined to comment on analyst reports.

Saylor was unavailable for comment yesterday, Chatterton said. The brash chief executive has kept a relatively low profile in recent months, a marked departure from when he cultivated an image as a high-flying tech wizard in the late 1990s.

Before his company restated its financial results, Saylor was worth more than $10 billion on paper. He talked of "freeing information" and being a purveyor of intelligence.

He once told the New Yorker magazine, "I think my software is going to become so ubiquitous, so essential, that if it stops working, there will be riots."

But the party ended on March 20, 2000, when the company restated financial results.

MicroStrategy's shares lost 62 percent of their value that day -- dropping to $86.75 from $226.75. Shareholders lost $11.1 billion.

Saylor and two other top executives eventually agreed to pay fines of $350,000 each to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that they committed civil accounting fraud. The three officials neither admitted or denied wrongdoing.

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