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Tickers in this Article: ADBE
Adobe Systems (Nasdaq:ADBE) will release its fourth quarter results on Thursday, December 13, 2012. Analysts are expecting earnings per share of 46 cents after the company booked a profit of only 52 cents a share a year earlier.

Investors should care about a company's quarterly earnings because it shows the state of the business over the past 90 days and provides guidance for the following 90 days. SEE: Earnings: Quality Means Everything

What to Expect: Analysts are projecting earnings of 46 cents per share for Adobe, 11.5% less than a year ago, when the company reported earnings of 52 cents per share.

The consensus estimate has risen over the past month, from 45 cents, but it is still below the estimate of 56 cents from three months ago. Analysts are expecting earnings of $1.91 per share for the fiscal year.

Revenue for the quarter is expected to be $1.1 billion, short of last year's reported figure of $1.15 billion by 4.5%. For the fiscal year, expected revenue is $4.35 billion.

Company Performance: Revenue has risen year-over-year for four consecutive quarters now. It increased 6.6% to $1.08 billion in the third quarter. Prior to that, the figure rose 9.9% in the second quarter, 1.7% in the first quarter and 14.3% in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year.

P/E ratio for ADBE is 22.6. One of the most important estimates of stock market valuation is the price/earnings ratio (P/E ratio). High P/E stocks could be "growth" stocks, while low PE stocks may be "value" stocks. SEE: Understanding The P/E Ratio

Over the past quarter, the stock price has risen to $35.48 from $32.43 on September 11, 2012. The price sits within 20 cents of its 52-week high of $35.68, set December 6, 2012. Adobe's stock price is currently on the rise. Since November 14, 2012 business days the stock has risen $3.24 per share.

The Competition: Adobe Systems offers a line of creative, business, web, and mobile software and services used by creative professionals, knowledge workers, consumers, original equipment manufacturers, developers, and enterprises. They have grown pessimistic about the stock, as the number of buy ratings has dropped slightly over the past three months.

The company's closest competitor in the software and programming industry is Microsoft (MSFT). Analysts are more optimistic about Adobe than about Microsoft. Only 20 out of 28 analysts rate the latter a buy compared to 10 of 23 for the former.

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