EarthLink Network Inc. (Nasdaq: ELNK) reported a smaller-than-expected loss in its second quarter Wednesday, losing $12 million, or 21 cents a share, on sales of $78 million.
First Call consensus expected it to lose 22 cents a share in the quarter.
Its shares closed off 1 3/8 to 64 ahead of the earnings report.
The $78 million in sales represents a 106 percent improvement versus the year-ago quarter when it lost $24.5 million, or 20 cents a share, on sales of $37.9 million.
In the quarter, EarthLink added 180,000 new customers, pushing its total customer base to more than 1.3 million users.
"EarthLink added 180,000 net new members, a 125 percent increase over the second quarter of 1998, and a 16 percent increase over the first quarter of 1999, during a period which is traditionally considered a seasonally slow quarter," said CEO Garry Betty in a prepared release. "In addition, our incremental revenue increased 15 percent to $2.3 million for the quarter, a 98 percent increase over the same period in 1998, while our backlog increased to $8 million."
Last quarter, EarthLink lost $4.6 million, or 15 cents a share, on sales of $68.2 million.
In the quarter, EarthLink reported gross profit margins of 57 percent.
Separately, EarthLink announced that it will sell high- speed Internet service using MCI WorldCom's (Nasdaq: WCOM) phone network, making it the first Internet provider to offer the service nationwide.
EarthLink's high-speed Internet access service, which uses so-called digital subscriber lines, or DSL, will be tested in the fall. It plans to offer DSL service, which it expects will cost $40 to $60 a month, in major cities by the end of the year.
EarthLink shares peaked at 99 3/8 in April after falling to a low of 19 1/2 in August.
Seven of the eight analysts following the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.