Autodesk in 3-D

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Happy Feet won Academy Awards this year for their dazzling effects, which they owed in part to software from Autodesk (Nasdaq: ADSK  ) . The programs that power such CGI wizardry are just one of the company's many growth engines.

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006, revenue increased 19% to $497 million, while full-year revenue rose 21% to $1.84 billion. Autodesk did not report net income, because its option-grant investigation has forced the company to restate earnings. While that investigation is now concluded, management will need to restate earnings by roughly $38 million to $45 million, going back to 2002. Looking forward, Autodesk predicts revenue of $490 million to $500 million for the fiscal first quarter of 2007, and $2.08 billion to $2.13 billion for the full year.

Autodesk's broad suite of design software lets users prototype everything from buildings to machines to animated movie stars. In the past few years, the company has concentrated on 3-D design technologies, helping engineers inexpensively model and test designs for critical, complex systems like bridges and cars. These programs have helped Autodesk compete with rivals such as Parametric Technology (Nasdaq: PMTC  ) , Avid Technology (Nasdaq: AVID  ) , and Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE  ) .

Despite the fierce competition, customers seem to favor Autodesk's offerings. Sales of its core 3-D product line grew by a hefty 40% in the fiscal fourth quarter, to $121 million. Autodesk is also gaining considerable traction from emerging economies, as those countries increase their investments in infrastructure. Revenue from emerging markets increased 39% in 2006, to $258 million.

It's tough to find fault with Autodesk. Lackluster performance in Japan has plagued the company, but things seem to have stabilized there. With 3-D technology still in its early stages, Autodesk has abundant room for growth, especially considering that such software only represents about a quarter of its total revenues. Once it's cleared up its distracting stock-option mess, management should be able to focus even more intently on growing its business.

The very model of further Foolishness:

Fool contributor Tom Taulli, author of The Complete M&A Handbook, does not own shares mentioned in this article. He is currently ranked 2,262 out of 23,585 in CAPS. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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