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Exodus spikes on earnings, stock split

Shares of the Internet services outsourcing firm shoot up 32 percent following the firm's year-end results, an analyst's reiterated recommendation, and the announcement of a 2-for-1 stock split.

Shares of Internet services outsourcing firm Exodus Communications shot up 32 percent Wednesday following the firm's year-end results, an analyst's reiterated recommendation, and the announcement of a 2-for-1 stock split.

Shares of Exodus leapt 27.44 to close at 113.5, and traded as high as 115.13, the stock's all-time high.

Exodus, which provides network, Web hosting, and consulting and management services to high-traffic clients including eBay, Hotmail, and GeoCities, yesterday reported a net loss of $19.9 million, or $1 per share, for the fourth quarter, not counting indirect expenses associated with the acquisition of security firm Arca Systems. Counting those one-time charges, net loss for the quarter was $21.4 million, or $1.07 per share, compared with a net loss of $11.3 million, or $5.91 per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Revenues of $21.1 million for the quarter were up 330 percent from fourth quarter 1997.

For the full year, Exodus had a net loss of $66.4 million, or $3.64 per share, compared to $26.7 million, or $13.85 per share, in 1997. Revenues for 1998 increased 325 percent, to $52.7 million from $12.4 million in 1997.

"We grew 46 percent in revenues from quarter to quarter," noted Exodus chief financial and operating officer Dick Stoltz. "It was our ninth consecutive quarter of over 40 percent growth."

Stoltz ascribed Exodus's growth to increasing demand and said the firm had its market nearly locked up.

"Companies increasingly want 100 percent outsourcing," Stoltz said. "They want you to do just about everything for them. That's the reason, if you think about it from a competition standpoint, that it's very hard to catch up--because it's very hard to do what we do. We're the dominant player in this space and that's becoming increasingly obvious."

Analyst Rick Juarez, of BancBoston Robertson Stephens, sounded a similar note Tuesday when he reiterated his "Buy" rating and 12 month $135 price target and raised estimates on the company.

"Exodus has quickly moved from category killer to category gorilla," said Juarez in a statement. "Exodus is beginning to reap the benefits of economies of scale, with sequential revenue growth of 46 percent, compared with 30 percent growth in overall operating costs."

Juarez raised his 1999 revenue estimate to $144.3 million from $139.5 million and earnings per share to a loss of $3.89 from a loss of $3.93. He also raised his 2000 earnings per share estimate to a loss of $1.36 from a loss of $1.42.

With its earnings announcement Tuesday, Exodus joined a growing herd of technology companies in declaring a 2-for-1 stock split. The split will bring the number of outstanding shares to 40.2 million from 20.1 million.

Exodus, launched in 1994 and went public in March of last year. Former IBM and Apple executive Ellen Hancock joined the company as president at its IPO and became chief executive in September.