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Be Free buys TriVida, beats estimates and splits stock

Online marketer Be Free, Inc. (Nasdaq: BFRE) said Wednesday it would buy TriVida Corp. to improve its ability to predict customer preferences, in an exchange of about 1.56 million of its shares. The company also topped estimates with a fourth-quarter loss of 19 cents a share, narrower than First Call's expected loss of 24 cents a share, and announced a 2-for-1 stock split.

Shares in the performance-based marketing company closed at 108 1/8 Tuesday, continuing their ascent since the company bounded on to the market in its November IPO.

Be Free provides services that enable customers to manage hyperlink promotions for their products and services, so that they pay only when these promotions generate sales or traffic. The acquisition of TriVida, a privately held developer of personalization technology, will incorporate its powerful data analysis engine, giving Be Free the ability to predict consumer preferences based on historical and real-time information.

Under the terms of the agreement, Be Free will exchange about 1.56 million shares for all of the outstanding shares of TriVida. The transaction, subject to approval by TriVida's shareholders, is slated to occur later this month.

The company said the acquisition will boost its ability to target users.

Be Free said Tuesday that revenue for the fourth quarter increased 579 percent to $2.6 million compared with $386,000 for the fourth quarter of 1998, and increased 100 percent from $1.3 million in the third quarter of 1999.

Net loss in the fourth quarter was $5.4 million, or 30 cents a share, compared with $1.8 million, or 30 cents a share, for the same period in 1998.

Excluding non-cash equity-related compensation charges, an extraordinary item resulting from the early extinguishment of debt and the accretion of preferred stock outstanding prior to the company's initial public offering to its redemption value, the net loss for the fourth quarter of 1999 was $4.5 million, or 19 cents a share on a pro-forma basis.

For the year ended December 3, revenue increased more than 300 percent to $5.3 million, from $1.3 million in 1998. The company recorded a net loss of $17.8 million, or $2.04 per share, for 1999. Net loss, excluding non-cash equity-related compensation charges, an extraordinary item and the accretion of preferred stock to its redemption value, was $15.6 million, or 87 cents a share on a pro-forma basis. First Call had expected the company to lose 92 cents a share for the fiscal year.

Be Free also said its board of directors has approved a 2-for-1 stock split, payable on March 8, 2000, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on March 1, 2000. Based upon currently outstanding shares, the total number of shares outstanding after the split will be approximately 56 million.