Analysts had forecast a penny-per-share profit for Red Hat, but the Linux software firm fell a bit short of hitting profitability.

And even though Red Hat (Nasdaq: RHAT) cut its losses dramatically in its fiscal year ending in February to $6.4 million from $140.2 million the previous year, its stock plunged some 6 percent in after hours trading to $5.64.

Red Hat reported a loss of $56,000 for the most recent quarter on revenues of $25.9 million. Red Hat had reported its first ever profit the previous quarter.

In a conference call after Wall Street closed on Tuesday, Matthew Szulik, Red Hat’s chief executive officer, blamed the miss on a drop in retail sales as well as a $900,000 loss due to weaker US currency exchange rates.

“I feel our lack of performance in retail and retail as a channel of distribution has contributed to some of the revenue shortfall that we have reported,” Szulik said. “What we have seen also is a negative effect in foreign currency exchange as some of the primary reasons for red Hat not achieving some of the targets that we had stated earlier.”

Red Hat made a commitment in 2002 to focus on the enterprise market and its line of Advanced Server products and services. The company recently renamed the product line as Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS and reported sales of 5,000 units in the first quarter of product availability.

Red Hat also plans to introduce a new retail version of its software, according to Chief Financial Officer Kevin Thompson.

In a year of glum news for most tech firms, Red Hat increased revenues 15 percent, to $90.9 million. It also has increased revenues four consecutive quarters.

Leading the way are enterprise services and products. Red Hat said enterprise server subscription sales soared 38 percent to 4,500 in the quarter. Enterprise revenues, including technology and services, jumped 73 percent for the year. Subscription revenues were up 54 percent from the previous quarter.

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