When Siebel Systems (NASDAQ:SEBL) reported its fourth-quarter earnings in January, the company issued what seemed to be conservative profit guidance. Not surprisingly, the software maker raised its first-quarter outlook Friday afternoon, giving the stock a small boost in Monday morning trading.

For the first quarter, Siebel now expects total revenues to come in at $329 million, toward the high end of its prior guidance of $315 million to $335 million. Meanwhile, the company bumped its earnings forecast up a penny to between $0.05 and $0.06 per share.

Notably, where the company had been cautious at the beginning of the quarter, declining to give guidance beyond the first two quarters, the sentiment has clearly improved.

A key indicator of new business, licensing revenues are expected to climb 15% to about $127 million, beating the estimate of $110 million to $125 million. On a conference call (transcript courtesy of CCBN), CEO Tom Siebel noted that 61% of licensing revenue came from new customers and pointed to particular strength in the U.S., where licensing revenue was up 26% year over year and up 3% from the fourth quarter.

Business also remains healthy in Europe, where the company is "cautiously optimistic" on the prospects for the next several quarters. As always, we'll get a better view of the macro picture should we hear anything out of the likes of Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) and PeopleSoft (NASDAQ:PSFT).

For all that, shares of Siebel Systems lost much of the morning's gains. But again, the raised guidance came as no surprise, especially to those who thought the company lowballed its earlier estimates -- something it had done the previous quarter as well. The revised expectations put Siebel roughly in line with analyst estimates.

If it works at all, setting a low bar only works for so long. As evidence, while the business environment looks to have improved, that improvement seems already to be baked into the stock price.

Is IT spending back? Give us your take on the Siebel Systems discussion board.

Fool contributor Jeff Hwang doesn't own shares of Siebel Systems.