UPDATE 3-Autodesk Q4 profit beats Street, shares rise
* Expects margin improvement in fiscal 2011
* Shares up 5.6 pct (Adds CEO comment, updates shares)
By Ian Sherr
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Autodesk Inc (ADSK.O) posted better-than-expected quarterly results as corporate budgets loosened and demand improved for its design software.
The company, which makes the AutoCAD design software for architects and designers, also said it expected its operating margin, excluding items, to increase "significantly" in fiscal 2011 over 2010.
Autodesk reported net income of $50.1 million, or 21 cents a share, in its fiscal fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, after a year ago net loss of $105.30 million, or 47 cents.
Excluding items, Autodesk earned 30 cents a share, beating the average analyst estimate of 23 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net revenue including licensing and maintenance fell to $456.1 million from $489.8 million the previous year, but came in above the Wall Street target of $432 million.
Autodesk shares rose 5.6 percent in after-hours trading.
Analysts said Autodesk is well placed to increase revenue in 2010 because of its international scope and an expected resurgence in spending by corporations.
Many of the company's customers appeared to be upgrading their software, bringing higher revenue and margins, analysts said.
Executives said many of Autodesk's manufacturing customers in particular were running older systems.
"We were very successful in either wholesale replacements or getting pilots in, in order to replace those old expensive systems," Chief Executive Carl Bass told analysts on a conference call.
Bass said his company was also eyeing expansion in emerging markets, where existing relationships are helping to grow business.
"Autodesk is well positioned in the market to see growth even in a relatively flat economic environment because of its worldwide footprint," said Longbow Research analyst Steve Koenig.
Autodesk forecast revenue for the current quarter of $420 million to $440 million, with earnings per share excluding items of 18 cents to 23 cents. Wall Street expects current-quarter earnings of 20 cents on revenue of $429.53 million.
The San Rafael-based company's shares closed at $25.66 on Nasdaq and rose to $27.10 in extended trading. (Reporting by Ian Sherr; Editing by Richard Chang and Carol Bishopric)
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