SAP Fourth-Quarter Sales Rise Lifts Shares

German software giant SAP posted solid preliminary fourth-quarter results in line with market expectations on Monday, sending its shares up as much as 6 percent.

SAP, which disappointed the market a year ago by missing its fourth-quarter forecast, said software and software-related revenues rose 13 percent to 2.48 billion euros ($3.69 billion) in last quarter of 2007.

That met the average estimate of 2.44 billion euros in a range of 2.36 to 2.45 billion euros seen in a Reuters poll of 13 analysts.

Total fourth-quarter sales gained 10 percent to 3.25 billion euros, it added in a statement.

Software revenues in the last quarter of 2007 rose 14 percent to 1.41 billion euros.

Merck Finck analyst Theo Kitz said shareholders were relieved that expectations were met and there was no disappointment like last year.

"There was a lot of skepticism in the market, but it has now vanished into thin air. The figures are all right," he said.

SAP shares closed in Frankfurt up 2.7 percent at 33.70 euros.

SAP said it would provide further details and an outlook for 2008 on Jan. 30.

According to preliminary figures, full-year 2007 software and software-related service revenue rose 13 percent to 7.44 billion euros.

Software revenues for the full year were also up 13 percent, at 3.40 billion euros, and total 2007 sales grew around 9 percent to 10.26 billion euros.

SAP, which is very active in the United States, said despite currency effects it expected its 2007 operating margin to be around 26.5 percent, down from 27.3 percent in 2006.

Based on its preliminary figures for sales and operating margin, its 2007 operating profit would be around 2.7 billion euros.

SAP had targeted a 2007 operating margin in the range of 26 to 27 percent as it invested to expand new businesses.