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SAP, Europe's biggest software firm, has seen profits rise as it continues to gain ground on rivals.

Net profits jumped by 14 per cent year-on-year in Q2 to €249m, or €0.80 per share, broadly in line with forecasts. The was partly driven by a nine per cent increase in sales to €1.78bn.

Market watchers were cheered by a 15 per cent rise in software revenues to €497m, especially in light of the weak dollar.

The enterprise software firm says it is gaining market share in the all-important US market, where it claims to compete mainly with Oracle, PeopleSoft, Microsoft and Siebel. On a rolling four-quarter basis, the firm now controls about 37 per cent of the US market by revenues, compared with 29 per cent a year ago, SAP estimates.

With approximately €600m in global software revenues for the quarter, the firm claims to now control about 55 per cent of the world market, compared to 51 per cent a year ago.

Henning Kagermann, CEO of SAP, said: "Customers are demanding reliability, financial strength, innovative capabilities and a broad product portfolio from their software partners. Our ability to deliver on all four of these qualities, along with the investments we have made in expanding our product offerings and technology, have all contributed to our continued share gains against our peer group.

"We continue to experience a sound economic environment in the US while our European business is showing signs of stabilisation in a more subdued economy."

SAP held fast on its outlook for 2004, with software revenues expected to grow by around 10 per cent. Pro forma operating margin, which excludes stock-based compensation and acquisition-related charges, is expected to increase by around one percentage point in 2004.

Full year pro forma earnings per share, which excludes stock-based compensation, acquisition-related charges and impairment-related charges, are expected to be €4.20 to €4.30 per share.

© ENN

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