SAP sees 10 percent sales growth in 2004

SAP AG expects software sales to increase 10 percent in 2004 as businesses resume IT spending after an investment pause of more than two years, the company said Thursday as it announced its fourth-quarter results. The Walldorf, Germany, vendor said it sees clear signs that enterprises have begun to pick up the pace in software investments.

The outlook comes as SAP, Europe's largest software company, reported a 3 percent drop in fourth-quarter software license revenue to Euro 931 million (US$1.2 billion as of Dec. 31, 2003, the last day of the period reported) from Euro 958 million in the same period a year ago. The company attributed the decline in sales largely to a weak dollar. Based on a constant currency, fourth-quarter software license sales increased 3.5 percent, it said.

Total group revenue in the quarter fell 3 percent to Euro 2.2 billion from Euro 2.3 billion the year before. At a constant currency, total sales increased 4 percent, the company said.

For its 2003 business year, SAP reported total sales of Euro 7 billion, down from Euro 7.4 billion in 2002.

Net income in the fourth quarter was Euro 423 million, down from Euro 474 million a year ago, or Euro 1.36 per share compared to Euro 1.52 per share year-on-year.

In 2003, total net income was Euro 1.1 billion, up from Euro 509 million the previous year, or Euro 3.48 per share compared to Euro 1.63 per share. The company said it expects pro forma earnings per share of between Euro 4.20 and Euro 4.30 in 2004.

These results were largely in line with the preliminary figures announced last week.

SAP said its share of the worldwide market for business software grew to 59 percent at the end of the fourth quarter, compared to 58 percent in the same period a year earlier.

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