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Cyberian Outpost&#039s 1Q loss smaller than expected

Cyberian Outpost Inc. (Nasdaq: COOL) posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its first quarter Tuesday, losing $8.9 million, or 38 cents a share, on sales of $32.7 million. Its shares closed unchanged at 11 3/8.

First Call consensus expected Cyberian Outpost to lose 40 cents a share.

The $32.7 million in sales represents a 183 percent jump versus the year-ago quarter when it lost $4.2 million, or 69 cents a share, on sales of $11.6 million.

Its Outpost.com site ended the quarter with 331,000 customers, up 18 percent from the fourth quarter.

"Our core focus during the past quarter was to grow our margin, which is demonstrated by our increase to 10.4 percent gross margin," said CEO Darryl Peck in a prepared release. "We are very pleased with our results, especially given that, along with others in the industry, we experienced delayed shipments from Apple for the PowerBook G3 and the temporary halt of Compaq Computer deliveries during this past quarter."

Last quarter, Cyberian Outpost beat Street estimates when it reported a loss of $7.8 million, or 34 cents a share, on sales of $33.1 million.

Cyberian Outpost shares moved up to a 52-week high of 45 1/2 in November after falling to a low of 5 15/16 in September.

Four of the five analysts following the stock rate it a "strong buy."

First Call consensus expects the online PC and computer equipment retailer to lose $1.64 a share in the fiscal year.