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Sales growth lifts Cerner to 4th-quarter beat

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Cerner Corp., a maker of health care software for doctors, hospitals and pharmacies, said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter net income rose 23 percent to top expectations as bookings reached an all-time high.

Cerner said bookings in the last three months of the year rose 13 percent to $1.02 billion. Shares rose 5 percent after-hours to $88, having closed the regular session up 51 cents at $83.60 before the report.

The North Kansas City, Mo., company earned $111.8 million, or 63 cents per share, up from $91.2 million, or 52 cents per share, in the final quarter of 2011. Excluding items, adjusted profit totaled 67 cents in the latest period.

Revenue rose 15 percent to $710.4 million from $615.6 million, helped by an uptick in sales of systems and support, maintenance and services.

The results beat the average expectations of analysts, who forecast earnings of 64 cents per share on revenue of $697.6 million, according to FactSet.

"2012 was great year for Cerner. We delivered outstanding bookings, revenue, earnings and cash flow growth, with this growth coming from expanding relationships with existing clients and record levels of bookings from new clients," Neal Patterson, Cerner chairman, CEO, president and co-founder, said in a statement.

Looking ahead, Cerner currently expects to post first-quarter earnings, excluding one-time items and stock-based compensation costs, of 61 cents and 63 cents per share on revenue between $690 million and $715 million. For fiscal 2013, the company is forecasting adjusted earnings of $2.75 to $2.82 per share and revenue between $2.95 billion and $3.05 billion.

On average, analysts are predicting quarterly profit of 64 cents per share on revenue of $700.6 million, and full-year earnings of $2.79 per share on sales of $2.98 billion.