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Cyberian Outpost plunges on gloomy outlook

    Shares of Cyberian Outpost Inc. (Nasdaq: COOL) plunged 1 3/8, or 12 percent, to 10 Wednesday, one day after it posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its first quarter, losing $8.9 million, or 38 cents a share, on sales of $32.7 million.

    First Call consensus expected the online computer retailer to lose 40 cents a share.

    But Dain Rauscher Wessels and Deutsche Banc BT Alex Brown both cut the stock Wednesday, citing increased competition from a variety of online retail sites.

    Dain Rauscher Wessels cut Cyberian Outpost from a "strong-buy aggressive" recommendation to "buy aggressive." It now expects the company to lose $1.65 a share in fiscal 2000 rather than $1.61 a share and it predicts a loss of $1.50 a share in fiscal 2000, up from $1.15 a share.

    The revised estimates are a result of an expected increase in general and administrative costs and a rise in technology and development expenses.

    Deutsche Banc BT Alex Brown downgraded the stock from a "strong buy" to a "buy" rating but provided no further details.

    The $32.7 million in sales represents a 183 percent jump versus the year-ago quarter when it lost $4.2 million, or 69 cents a share, on sales of $11.6 million.

    Its Outpost.com site ended the quarter with 331,000 customers, up 18 percent from the fourth quarter.

    "Our core focus during the past quarter was to grow our margin, which is demonstrated by our increase to 10.4 percent gross margin," said CEO Darryl Peck in a prepared release. "We are very pleased with our results, especially given that, along with others in the industry, we experienced delayed shipments from Apple for the PowerBook G3 and the temporary halt of Compaq Computer deliveries during this past quarter."

    Last quarter, Cyberian Outpost beat Street estimates when it reported a loss of $7.8 million, or 34 cents a share, on sales of $33.1 million.

    Cyberian Outpost shares moved up to a 52-week high of 45 ? in November after falling to a low of 5 15/16 in September.

    Four of the five analysts following the stock rate it a "strong buy."

    First Call consensus expects the online PC and computer equipment retailer to lose $1.64 a share in the fiscal year.