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Original Source: FD (FAIR DISCLOSURE) WIRE
OPERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen and thank you for standing by. Welcome to Renaissance Learning's first quarter earnings release conference call. [OPERATOR INSTRUCTIONS]. At this time, I would like to introduce you to your host, the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. John Hickey. Please go ahead, sir.
JOHN HICKEY, CEO, RENAISSANCE LEARNING, INC.: Good afternoon. I'm John Hickey, CEO of Renaissance Learning, Inc. I would like to welcome everyone to our first quarter conference call. Before starting, I need to point out that this call may include information constituting forward-looking statements pursuant to the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 including statements regarding sales expectations in the introduction of new products and services. Any such forward-looking statements may involve risk and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from any future results in conference within the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include those matters disclosed in the company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including 10-K and 10-Q.
With me today is Steve Schmidt, our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Steve and I will provide some brief comments, and then we will take your questions. Last quarter when we spoke with you, we reported that the first half of 2004 would be challenging, with the first quarter looking especially difficult. Our expectations were correct. The first quarter revenues were 31.5 million, down 7.9% from first quarter 2003. Net income was 5.9 million, down 22% from first quarter 2003. And earnings per share for the quarter were 19 cents compared to 24 cents per share for first quarter 2003. We're still in a very difficult state spending environment and as we mentioned last quarter, there really is no reason to expect the environment to improve this school year. Although we remain hopeful that the current school year represents the bottom, we do anticipate that a recovery will be slow to develop. In addition to the spending environment, our first quarter order rates were also impacted by our customer's anticipation and consideration of the new Renaissance Place versions of our products.
The new Renaissance Place versions of Accelerated Reader and Accelerated Math are anticipated to ship later this quarter and we believe that our customers have delayed their order decisions as they take some time to evaluate our new product lineup in the benefits alongside traditional Renaissance choices. We also previously communicated that attendance at our national conference was expected to come in below prior year's levels. In fact, registrations for the conference this year were approximately 3,000 below the 5,000 that had typically attended. We believe that tight school budgets seriously impacted the ability of teachers and administrators to attend our conference.
I would like to add though that the conference was well received by those attending and in every way, except attendance, was one of our most successful. Despite the weakness of our first quarter, we have several reasons to remain optimistic about the remainder of the year. One of the key reasons for optimism is our Renaissance Place product line.
Renaissance Place is a platform of the future. It truly is a progressive solution to help educators get the information they need to make data-driven decisions. We believe that Renaissance Place will …