SAP Earnings Rise as Revenue Continues to Slip

SAP's revenue fell in the third quarter, but earnings rose -- although neither figure was as high as analysts had hoped. The company said it expected the decline in software and software-related service revenue to continue.

Revenue totalled €2.51 billion (US$3.66 billion) for the third quarter, down 9 percent on the year-earlier figure, the company reported Wednesday.

Net income rose 12 percent, to €435 million, yielding earnings per share of €0.37 (US$0.54 as of Sept. 30, the last day of the period reported).

Analysts had expected earnings per share of $0.58 and revenue of $3.84 billion.

Software revenue saw the sharpest decline, slipping 31 percent to €525 million, while support revenue rose 14 percent to €1.33 billion. The company's increase in enterprise support charges has been a sore point with customers over the last year.

Overall, software and software-related service revenue fell 3 percent to €1.94 billion. At constant currency rates, the fall would have been 5 percent, SAP said.

The decline in revenue from software and software-related services will continue, and may accelerate, for the rest of the year, SAP said. At constant currency rates, it expects such revenue to decline by between 6 percent and 8 percent.

Consulting revenue fell 22 percent to €484 million, and training revenue dropped 43 percent to €60 million.

Software and software-related service revenue fell 13 percent in Germany, but rose 6 percent in the rest of SAP's Europe, Middle East and Africa region, the only area to see a growth in such revenue. Performance was particularly disappointing in emerging markets and Japan, SAP said.

The nature of deals is changing: SAP saw a trend towards more smaller deals, but is also signing longer-term contracts, it said.

The company's cost-cutting program is proceeding apace, and it has shed staff faster than planned. It originally announced its intention to reduce headcount to 48,500 by the end of 2009, a reduction of around 3,000 posts over the course of the year, but by the end of September the company had only 47,804 staff, it said Wednesday.

SAP has cut around 539 jobs in Germany since the start of the year, or 8.4 percent of its workforce there, and 3,732 jobs worldwide, or 7.2 percent of the workforce. The company cut just over 4 percent of research and development staff, but slashed professional services and sales and marketing staff by around 11 percent.

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