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Liberate revenue up 92 percent

The interactive TV software developer reports a narrower-than-expected loss for its fiscal first quarter and a sharp increase in revenue.

Liberate Technologies, an interactive TV software developer, reported on Thursday a narrower-than-expected loss for its fiscal first quarter and a 92 percent increase in revenue.

For the quarter ended Aug. 31, the San Carlos, Calif.-based company posted a loss of $9.2 million, or 9 cents a share, excluding charges. Revenue came in at $18.1 million. Analysts expected an average loss of 12 cents per share, according to a survey by First Call.

After saying that the company had reported nine straight quarters of beating analyst expectations, Mitchell Kertzman, Liberate's chief executive officer, added, "It's not just in our financials. All aspects of our business are going well from our deployments and design wins?Based on these results and what we see going forward, we're raising our guidance."

In the same quarter a year ago, Liberate lost $9 million, or 9 cents per share, on revenue of $9.4 million.

Including special charges, Liberate lost $78 million, or 74 cents per share, in its first quarter.

The company reported cash and investments worth $436.4 million and total assets of $949.1 million.

Liberate said it anticipates that revenue for its second quarter, ending Nov. 30, will be in the range of $19 million to $19.5 million and that its quarterly cash burn rate will not exceed $20 million.

As of Aug. 31, the company said, more than 2 million set-top boxes were using Liberate's interactive-television software.

The company reiterated its guidance that it will reach profitability on a pro forma basis in the first half of fiscal year 2003, which begins June 1, 2002.

Kertzman said the company could reach its profitability goal and added that the company is in its "early stages of growth and development, so it's easier for us to be confident about our guidance."

According to a recent headcount at the company, Liberate has 533 employees.

When asked how he expected the company to prosper given the current bleak economic environment, Kertzman said that many of the cable operators who contract with Liberate were acting on existing contracts that are part of the long-term plans.

"It's important for our customers to be digital because they actually save money when their subscribers use digital," added David Limp, Liberate's chief strategy officer.

Kertzman said that a competitive concern is potential rival Microsoft, which may not be delivering products but continues to "carry around a satchel full of cash."

Kertzman is on the board of directors of CNET Networks, which owns News.com.