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Ahead of the Bell: Compuware

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Compuware Corp. fell before Thursday's opening bell following the software company's announcement that delays in customer orders will hurt its fourth-quarter results.

Compuware said late Wednesday that based on preliminary results, it expects to post an adjusted fourth-quarter profit of 5 or 6 cents per share on $237 million to $241 million in revenue. Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of 17 cents per share on $272.8 million in revenue.

The Detroit company also issued a lower-than-expected profit and revenue guidance for the full year.

CEO Bob Paul said that a large number of the deals the company had expected to close in the fourth quarter were pushed into the new fiscal year, which hurt its results. He said many clients and prospective clients were unable to formalize their information technology budgets during the period and the company expects 75 to 80 percent of these delayed deals to close in the next fiscal year.

Jefferies analyst Aaron Schwartz, who backed his "Buy" rating and $12 price target for the stock, said that investing in Compuware is more about the potential gains from the company's ongoing cost-cutting efforts, an attempt by one of its major shareholders to buy the company and its dividend.

As a result, its fourth-quarter results aren't that big of a concern, he said.

Susquehanna Financial Group's J. Derrick Wood backed his "Neutral" rating, but cut his price target by $1 to $11. He said that Compuware's stepped up cost cut efforts will likely keep the shares from falling significantly despite the company's weak fundamentals and misses in three of this year's quarters.

Compuware has cut jobs and lowered expenses to help improve its profitability. It's also trying to spin off its Covisint Corp. business, which specializes in secure, industry specific communication and collaboration, into a public company.

Compuware in January rejected a $2.35 billion takeover bid by one of its largest shareholders. The company said Wednesday that its board continues to be committed to carefully reviewing and evaluating any credible offer it receives that delivers full value to its shareholders.

Its shares fell 43 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $11.60 in premarket trading Thursday.