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Net consultancy Lante hit on revenue warning

The company's stock ends the day down nearly 24 percent after it says it expects weaker third-quarter revenue.

    Shares of Lante today ended down nearly 24 percent after the company said it expects weaker third-quarter revenue, making it the latest Internet consulting company to issue an earnings warning amid an overall shift in the industry.

    At the close of the regular trading session, Lante shares were down $1.13 to $3.63. The stock had plummeted 30 percent earlier in the day. The company, which helps clients develop online businesses with a focus on setting up complex online marketplaces, or trading exchanges, has a 52-week high of $87.50.

    Chicago-based Lante, led by Rudy Puryear, the former head of Andersen Consulting's e-commerce business, said it expects revenue for the quarter to be 12 percent to 15 percent less than the $23.6 million it reported in the second quarter of this year. Lante, which said it saw a decreased amount of spending from a few of its dot-com clients, reported $9.3 million in revenue in the third quarter of 1999.

    The company said it also anticipates a third-quarter loss in the range of $6 million to $7 million. The loss includes an anticipated bad debt expense of approximately $1.7 million, the company said.

    Lante is the latest in a string of Internet consulting companies that have recently issued earnings warnings amid an overall market shift from serving dot-com clients to focusing on more traditional, established companies with deeper pockets.

    Though a number of companies have already shifted to a heavier Fortune 500 client base, analysts have said the trend means they will suffer from longer sales cycles, meaning sales will take longer to complete, and new revenue will be slow to materialize.

    Other companies in the industry, including US Interactive, Viant and iXL Enterprises, have also seen their stocks hit particularly hard following news of slower-than-expected revenue.

    Lante, which went public in February, said it is continuing to shift its efforts toward larger companies to help them develop their business-to-business marketplace initiatives.

    The company said its cash and investment balance at the close of the quarter, which ended Sept. 30, remains strong at approximately $90 million.

    Lante, whose clients include Microsoft and start-ups Beautyjungle.com and ChemPoint.com, is scheduled to post third-quarter results Oct. 23.