Adobe delighted shareholders yesterday with first-quarter financial results that exceeded expectations.

The company reported a net income of $54.3 million, or 23 cents per share. Expectations were 22 cents per share. The company returned $49.8 million in the year ago quarter.

Earnings would have reached $58.9 million, excluding restructuring charges, research and development and investment volatility. Revenues met $296.9 million - 11 per cent up from the year-ago quarter. The company had expected revenue between $270-$290 million for the quarter.

"Our second consecutive quarter of double digit revenue growth is an excellent start to 2003," said Bruce Chizen, Adobe president and CEO. He added: "These results are particularly encouraging given our strong product line up for the remainder of the year, beginning with a new version of Acrobat targeted to launch in Q2."

Adobe is aiming for $300-$315 million revenue for the second quarter. Like Apple, the company is maintaining its research and development expenditure at 21-22 per cent.

Dow Jones reports Chizen attributing the better than expected figures to Acrobat sales - a product the company has been pushing to corporate users as part of a strategy to increase its market share.

Chizen said the company expects fiscal 2003 revenues to exceed those of 2002, but would not commit to a figure. "Given economic uncertainty and the geopolitical climate, we've chosen not to give guidance beyond a quarter at a time," he said.

Adobe plans to build its presence in the enterprise business during the year and expects to see growth in that side of its business in 2004 and beyond. The company will announce new strategic relationships when it releases the new version of Acrobat later this year, Chizen said.