Adobe Fourth-Quarter Sales, Profit Forecast Fall Short

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Adobe Systems Inc. shares declined after the company’s forecast for fiscal fourth-quarter sales and profit fell short of estimates, even as the software maker added more subscribers for its cloud services.

Revenue in the period that ends in November will be $1.28 billion to $1.33 billion, less than analysts’ $1.36 billion average estimate. Profit, excluding some items, will be 56 cents to 62 cents, compared with a prediction for 64 cents.

Adobe has spent the past three years shifting most of its business from selling packaged software to persuading customers to sign up to use its programs on the Web. While revenue declined in 2013, the year after the transition began, they have recovered as customers got used to the new model and the company attracted new buyers.

In the third quarter, which ended in August, revenue rose 21 percent to $1.22 billion for the period that ended in August, the San Jose, California-based company said in a statement Thursday. Profit, excluding some items, was 54 cents a share. Analysts projected sales of $1.21 billion and profit of 50 cents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Subscribers to Adobe’s Creative Cloud rose by 684,000 to 5.33 million. Analysts on average had predicted an increase of 640,000, said Mark Moerdler, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

“If subscribers beat the street estimate, most everything else is immaterial,” Moerdler said. “If subscribers miss, people freak out.”

Creative Cloud

Adobe shares fell to $77.97 in extended trading after declining less than 1 percent to $80.31 at the close in New York. The stock is up 10 percent this year.

Adobe has forecast 5.9 million subscribers for Creative Cloud by the end of the current fiscal year, which ends in November. The company is also seeking to boost the number of users for its marketing products and a new service called the Document Cloud, which debuted earlier this year.

David Wadhwani, a senior vice president who helped to drive the transition to the cloud, is leaving Adobe for a chief executive officer role at another company, Adobe said. Wadhwani was at a pivotal meeting in November of 2011 with around 150 financial analysts to talk them through the shift to a subscription model.

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