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Audible rockets on Microsoft investment

    Shares of Audible Inc. more than doubled on Friday after Microsoft increased its investment in the company by $10 million.

    Audible's (Nasdaq: ADBL) stock jumped $1.25, or 143 percent, to $2.13 in pre-session trading on the Island ECN electronic trading network. The Wayne, N.J.-based company provides spoken-word audio services for content download or playback on personal computers. Shares of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) slipped $0.50 to $61.75.

    Under the deal, Microsoft Corp. has agreed to increase its stake in the company with a $10 million investment. The software giant previously invested in the company back in 1999.

    Microsoft's new investment will support Audible's development of spoken-audio content and technology using Microsoft platforms such as Windows Media technologies, the company said. The companies also intend co-market the new products to consumers and corporate customers.

    Earlier in the week, Audible released its fourth-quarter and full-year results.

    For the quarter, the company reported a net loss of $7.2 million, or 25 cents per share, excluding non-cash amortization. The figures were wider than the $5.4 million, or 18 cents a share, loss seen a year earlier.

    Total net revenue rose to $1.9 million for the fourth quarter, compared to the $420,263 taken in during the year-ago period.

    For the full year 2000, the company lost $32.3 million, or $1.14 per share, compared to a loss of $13.5 million, or 85 cents per share, a year earlier. Total net revenue was $4.5 million, up from $1.7 million reported for fiscal 1999.

    Net cash used in the fourth quarter dropped to $4.2 million from $4.7 million in the previous quarter.

    The company also said it reconfigured its strategic and marketing alliance with Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN), under which Audible provides digital spoken word products to Amazon customers.

    Audible's future minimum cash commitment to the deal was cut to $2.5 million through 2002, down from $10 million.