Sapient Warns on Q4 Estimates

Shares of Sapient Corp. dipped Friday morning after the Cambridge, Mass., e-consultancy cut its revenue and profit estimates for the fourth quarter of 2000.

Sapient said earnings for the three months ending in December would likely be $139 million, compared to consensus analyst estimates of $143 million. It’s estimating per-share profits at 10 cents, compared to analyst estimates of 12 cents.

In the third quarter Sapient made 12 cents a share on $138.1 million in revenue.

In midday trading Friday SAPE was down $2.38, or 16 percent, at $12.69. The stock has traded over the past year between $8.94 and $75.59.

Web design shops and consultancies have been hammered by the Internet economy recession, which has cut spending for virtually all of them and has seen their market values plummet.

Sapient attributed the fourth-quarter shortfall to slower spending by larger customers and continued reduction in revenues from dot-com clients. It said dot-com customers now account for just 5 percent of revenues, down from 9 percent in the third quarter, and should account for just 1 to 2 percent in the first quarter of 2001.

Sapient also predicted that first quarter revenue and profit figures should be flat compared to the fourth quarter. But it said the trends will have less influence as the year goes on, predicting revenue and earnings growth for the 2001 year at about 25 percent over 2000.

Jerry Greenberg, Sapient’s co-chairman and co-chief executive officer, said: “While we are certainly disappointed that we did not achieve the growth we originally projected, we are pleased that we continued to generate substantial profits and positive cash flow in this tough environment.”

Greenberg also said the fact that larger, brick-and-mortar customers are requesting more complicated Web projects “play(s) into our value proposition, which combines strategic insights with large-scale technology implementation skills.”

Sapient said its fourth quarter 2000 revenue would be up 70 percent over 1999’s fourth quarter, with and estimated per-share earnings up 25 percent. For the year 2000 it said revenue would be up 81 percent and earning up 48 percent over 1999.

The company will announce official fourth-quarter and year-end results on Jan. 25.

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