By Archibald Preuschat
FRANKFURT—Business-software company SAP /zigman2/quotes/203458330/delayed DE:SAP -1.64% AG said Wednesday it expects to return to growth in 2010, after a year of decline, including a 13% fall in fourth-quarter net profit.
The Walldorf, Germany-based company forecast a 4% to 8% rise in its software and software-related service revenue—a closely watched indicator—from the €8.2 billion posted in 2009.
SAP, which competes with Microsoft /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT +2.28% Corp. and Oracle /zigman2/quotes/202180826/composite ORCL +0.84% Corp., also wants to improve its operating margin to a range between 30% and 31% from 27.4% in 2009.
"Along with margin expansion for 2010, we are also ready to return to top-line growth, although the market continues to be challenging, and uncertainty among customers still exists," said Chief Executive Leo Apotheker .
SAP was hard hit by the economic downturn, as many of its customers scaled down investment in information technology.
Net profit in the three months to Dec. 31 fell to €726 million from €830 million a year earlier. Revenue, as reported earlier this month, eased 9% to €3.19 billion from €3.49 billion, as software revenue declined 15% to €1.12 billion from €1.32 billion. Software and software-related service revenue fell around 4% to €2.57 billion from €2.67 billion.
SAP changed its accounting rules from U.S. generally accepted accounting principles to international financial reporting standards in 2010, and guides on a non-IFRS basis on constant currencies.
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