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Ariba hurdles 3Q estimates as sales surge

Ariba posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its third quarter Wednesday, losing $11.3 million, or 5 cents a share, on sales of $80.7 million.

First Call Corp. consensus expected the B2B software and services provider to lose 8 cents a share in the quarter.

Ahead of the earnings report, Ariba (Nasdaq: ARBA) shares moved up 12 3/8 to 103 1/2. In after-hours trading, the stock roared up to 116.

The $80.7 million in sales marks a stunning 578 percent jump from the year-ago quarter when it lost $6 million, or 11 cents a share, on sales of $11.9 million. Most analysts were predicting revenue between $47 million to $49.7 million for Ariba this quarter.

"Our focus on delivering quality technology, deployment excellence, great partnerships and customer driven results is once again manifested in our high quality financial performance this quarter," said CEO Keith Krach in a prepared release. "Going forward, Ariba will continue to provide the leadership, innovation and underlying B2B infrastructure creating unprecedented value for buyers, suppliers and marketplaces."

Ahead of the earnings report, Friedman Billings Ramsey predicted Ariba would post a loss of 6 cents a share while UBS Warburg pegged it for a loss of 8 cents a share. Other B2B companies such as VerticalNet (Nasdaq: VERT), Commerce One (Nasdaq: CMRC), FreeMarkets (Nasdaq: FMKT) are also expected to post strong results.

Last quarter, Ariba topped Street estimates when it posted a loss of $11.5 million, or 6 cents a share, on sales of $40 million.

Its shares moved up to a 52-week high of 183 5/16 in March before splitting 2-for-1 in April.

Twenty-five of the 26 analysts following the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

Analysts are predicting Ariba will lose 26 cents a share in the fiscal year.