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Liberate reports smaller-than-expected losses

Liberate Technologies, a software maker concentrating on set-top boxes for interactive TV, reported narrower-than-expected losses.

Liberate Technologies, a software maker concentrating on set-top boxes for interactive TV, reported narrower-than-expected losses for its third fiscal quarter.

Liberate reported a loss, excluding special charges, of $8.9 million, or 9 cents a share, for the quarter that ended Feb. 28. During the same quarter last year the company lost $12.1 million or 14 cents per share.

A consensus of analysts expected a loss of 12 cents per share, according to First Call.

Including special charges, such as amortization, warrants and deferred stock compensation, Liberate's loss was $70.4 million, or 68 cents per share, compared with a loss of $18.7 million, or 22 cents, for the same quarter last year.

Revenue for the quarter came in at $14.4 million, compared with $7.5 million in the same period last year.

Liberate, which makes software for set-top boxes and Web-surfing appliances, competes with companies such as OpenTV, and a division of Microsoft that creates software for set-top boxes such as UltimateTV. To date, Liberate said, it has shipped about 1.1 million copies of its software.

Liberate said it expects to reach profitability in the first half of fiscal year 2003.

For its current quarter, which ends May 31, the company expects revenue in the range of $14.5 million to $15 million. Excluding special charges, the company expects a loss of 11 cents to 13 cents per share. That compares with revenue of $9.1 million and a loss of 13 cents per share during the same quarter last year.

Liberate expects its cash burn rate to fall between $20 million and $25 million.

In an effort to retain employees amid a falling stock price, the company's board of directors approved a voluntary option exchange program for employees other than officers and directors.

Employees can cancel options that are below current market value and exchange them for new grants six months later. This is a gesture that KnightRidder.com, which handles the Internet operations for the newspaper chain, made to its employees earlier this month, as did Amazon.com.