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1/30/2003
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SAP Sees Upbeat 2003 After 4Q Profits Rise

Software maker sees optimism after net income grows despite sales decline.

BERLIN (AP)--Germany's SAP AG, the huge maker of business-management software, posted higher fourth-quarter earnings Thursday and gave an upbeat outlook for 2003 despite market uncertainties.

Net profit for the quarter ending Dec. 31 was 474 million euros ($507 million), up from 319 million euros a year earlier, SAP said.

Revenue slipped to 2.28 billion euros ($2.40 billion) from 2.32 billion euros a year ago.

Full-year earnings were 509 million euros ($544 million), down from 581 million euros in 2001.

Revenue for the year rose to 7.41 billion euros ($7.93 billion) from 7.34 billion euros, thanks to stronger maintenance and consulting revenues.

License sales, the key measure of software demand, fell to 2.29 billion euros ($2.45 billion) in 2002, from 2.58 billion euros in 2001.

Assuming modest revenue growth, SAP said it expects to improve its profitability in 2003, in part through tight cost controls--even though the market for its products is depressed.

"Despite the continuing unpredictable political and economic environment, the company expects that it will continue to gain market share and increase profitability in 2003," SAP said in a statement.

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