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Piper Jaffray Downgrades Acxiom

Piper Jaffray downgrades information management company Acxiom Corp. (ACXM) to market perform.

Analyst Brett Manderfeld says despite stronger-than-expected revenue, fourth-quarter earnings per share was below estimates due to weaker-than-expected operating margins.

He estimates about half of the miss reflected below-the-line costs of additional "Sarbox" spending, security costs, and elimination of some fixed assets in Japan. He notes gross margins were also weak and cites sluggish real estate data sales and revenue softness globally.

Manderfeld downgrades from outperform on revised assumptions for operating margin expansion and concerns over further declines in revenues globally. He cuts his 94 cents fiscal 2006 (ending March) earnings per share estimate to 81 cents and $24 target to $18.

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