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MicroStrategy Profit Up 40% In 4th Quarter

Software Maker to Stop Forecasting Revenue

By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 28, 2005; Page E05

Software maker MicroStrategy Inc. posted strong gains in fourth-quarter profit and revenue.

The McLean company had a profit of $24.5 million ($1.43 a share) in the three months ended Dec. 31, a 40 percent increase over $17.5 million ($1.02) in the same period a year ago. The company's fourth-quarter revenue rose to $71.6 million from $51.7 million.

MicroStrategy chief executive Michael J. Saylor said the company will stop issuing revenue forecasts. (Susan Biddle -- The Washington Post)

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"We think that some of the things we're bringing to the market will allow us to continue to grow," chairman and chief executive Michael J. Saylor said in a conference call with investors yesterday. MicroStrategy's software helps companies organize large volumes of data to identify and analyze trends.

Saylor, the company's founder, did not discuss his assuming the role of president in December. Eric F. Brown, who was president and chief financial officer, left MicroStrategy to join McAfee Inc.

Brown has been credited with leading the company's turnaround after the Securities and Exchange Commission charged that it overstated its profits by tens of millions of dollars. The company restated earnings and settled the charges in 2000.

After Brown's departure, some analysts questioned whether Saylor was amassing too much power. Sanju K. Bansal, the company's chief operating officer, played down those concerns yesterday as "overblown."

"Mike's stake in the company and his position in the company haven't really changed," he said.

For 2004, MicroStrategy had a profit of $168.3 million ($9.83), compared with a loss of $3.9 million (26 cents) in 2003. The company's revenue for the year rose to $231.2 million from $175.6 million in fiscal 2003.

The company said it would no longer issue guidance, or financial projections, on its revenue or earnings per share. "We decided it would be prudent to adopt a more conservative stance . . . primarily because we concluded it's not especially helpful," Saylor said.

Some analysts expressed frustration at the company's new disclosure policy during the conference call.

"Investors don't like to have things taken away from them . . . and they don't like change," said Mark R. Murphy, an analyst with First Albany Corp. But the company's results were impressive, he added.

Shares of MicroStrategy rose 5 percent, or $3.11, to close at $65.01 yesterday.

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