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February 15, 2006

The analysts chime in on RealNetworks

Posted by Kim Peterson at 10:16 AM

Despite a quarter of record revenue and profit, RealNetworks can't catch a break with analysts. The company was downgraded to "hold" from "buy" this morning by P.J. McNealy of American Technology Research, who said in a research note that RealNetworks has reached nearly full valuation.

Music subscriber growth is slowing, and RealNetworks' $8.5 million expense from a canceled purchase agreement in the fourth quarter is "troubling," McNealy said. He guessed the agreement was related to a music hardware player project, and said that spending in this area is not a good use of RealNetworks' cash.

Charlie Ruch at Oppenheimer & Co. reiterated his "neutral" rating on the company's stock, saying that RealNetworks' fourth quarter subscriber numbers (both music and overall) were lower than what he had expected. Ruch said he is lowering his first quarter and full-year estimates for the company.

"With disappointing subscriber metrics -- most likely a sharp decline in video subscribers -- CFO's resigning from his position, sequential decline in international revenue, increasing competition across the company's business lines, and finally the stock's current valuation, we believe upside potential for the stock remains limited at current levels," Ruch wrote.

Here's the share price today.

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