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3Q results, upgrade spark Ticketmaster shares

    Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch Inc. (Nasdaq: TMCS) picked up 2 3/8, or 12 percent, to 22 13/16 Tuesday after it posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its third quarter.

    In the quarter, Ticketmaster lost $31.7 million, or 41 cents a share, on sales of $27.4 million.

    On Tuesday, Bear Stearns upgraded the stock from an "attractive" recommendation to a "buy."

    First Call consensus expected the online ticket seller to lose 49 cents a share in the quarter.

    The $27.4 million in sales represents a 141 percent improvement versus the year-ago quarter when it lost $19.3 million, or 31 cents a share, on sales of $11.3 million.

    "We believe this quarter's metrics underscore the importance of the local platform we are building," said CEO Charles Conn in a prepared release. "We are moving far beyond an online information resource; we are becoming a practical tool that local consumers use daily to save time and manage their lives more effectively."

    In the quarter, Ticketmaster grew its online ticket sales 260 percent versus the same period last year.

    It also grew its registered user base to more than 4.9 million users and sold 2.5 million tickets in the quarter at an average convenience and handling charge of $6.45 per ticket.

    Its shares moved up to a 52-week high of 80 1/2 in April before slipping to a low of 17 7/8 earlier this month.

    Four of the five analysts following the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

    First Call consensus expects it to lose $1.69 a share in the fiscal year.