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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

Earnings Roundup: About.com, Drugstore.com top estimates

About.com Inc. (Nasdaq: BOUT) posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its fourth quarter Monday, losing $8.3 million, or 57 cents a share, on sales of $13 million.

Its shares closed off 4 5/16 to 63 1/16 ahead of the earnings report.

The $13 million in sales marks a six-fold improvement from the year-ago quarter when it dropped $5.9 million, or 75 cents a share, on sales of $2.1 million.

"The fourth quarter solidified a tremendously successful year," said CEO Scott Kurnit in a prepared release. "In each succeeding quarter we've provided further evidence that our business and our model are highly differentiated, leverageable and scalable."

In the quarter, About.com recorded 12.6 million users while average daily page views jumped 55 percent to 8.2 million in the month of December, up from 5.3 million in September.

For the year, About.com lost $49.4 million, or $4.15 a share, on sales of $27 million compared to a loss of $15.1 million, or $1.92 a share, on sales of $3.7 million in fiscal 1998.

Its membership base rose 68 percent to 3.7 million in December, compared to 2.2 million in September. Membership grew 68% to 3.7 million in December 1999, from 2.2 million in September 1999.

About.com's revenue per thousand page view improved to $20.94, compared with $15.13 in the third quarter.

About.com shares moved up to a 52-week high of 100 in April before falling to a low of 19 1/2 in August.

All five analysts tracking the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

First Call consensus expects it to lose $4.45 a share in the fiscal year.

  • Homestore.com Inc. (Nasdaq: HOMS) posted fourth quarter results in line with analysts' estimates, losing $16.2 million, or 23 cents a share, on sales of $28.1 million.

    Its shares closed up 13 9/16 to 96 1/2 ahead of the earnings report.

    The $28.1 million in sales marks a 233 percent improvement compared to the year-ago quarter when it lost $15.5 million, or 32 cents a share, on sales of $8.4 million.

    For the year, Homestore.com lost $71.1 million, or $1.14 a share, on sales of $73.4 million compared to a loss of $44.9 million, or $1.04 a share, on sales of $23.1 million in fiscal 1998.

    "Our fourth quarter and 1999 operating results extend our strong growth trend at Homestore.com," said CEO Stuart Wolff in a prepared release. "We produced substantial growth across all aspects of our business last year, while successfully launching a newly designed, vertically integrated portal -- sometimes called a 'vortal' -- that simplifies the use and enriches the content of our web-based consumer center for the home."

    Its shares hit a 52-week high of 109 in December.

    Among other technology companies reporting earnings Monday:

  • Drugstore.com Inc. (Nasdaq: DSCM) posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its fourth quarter Monday, losing $41 million, or $1.02 a share, on sales of $18.5 million.

    Its shares closed up 5 7/8 to 35 ahead of the earnings report.

    In the year-ago quarter, it lost $6 million, or $6.89 a share.

    For the year, Drugstore.com lost $115.8 million, or $6.13 a share, on sales of $34.8 million.

    In the quarter, customer accounts increased by 267,000 to 695,000, up 62 percent increase from 428,000 accounts it recorded in the third quarter. Repeat customer orders increased from 33 percent to 44 percent of total orders.

    "1999 was a banner year for Drugstore.com," said CEO Peter Neupert in a prepared release. "We achieved our key strategic goal of securing the leadership position in the emerging online drugstore category."

    First Call consensus expects Drugstore.com to lose $3.22 a share in fiscal 2000.

  • Digital Island Inc. (Nasdaq: ISLD) topped Street estimates in its first quarter, losing $22.3 million, or 61 cents a share, on sales of $7.6 million.

    Its shares closed up 1 13/16 to 93 7/16 ahead of the earnings report.

    The $7.6 million in sales marks a 449 percent jump from the year-ago quarter when it lost $5.9 million, or $2.33 a share, on sales of $1.4 million.

    "The quarter just ended has been the most important and exciting period in Digital Island's history," said CEO Ruann Ernst in a prepared release. "We have not only experienced strong revenue and customer growth, but have also expanded the size and reach of our e-Business Delivery Network, and continued to increase the breadth and capabilities of our service offerings through key acquisitions and partnerships."

    Digital Island's customer base increased 54 percent to 169 in the quarter.

    Its shares peaked at 156 15/16 in December after falling to a low of 8 5/8 last January.

    All six analysts tracking the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

    First Call consensus expects it to lose $3.12 a share in the fiscal year.

  • WebTrends Corp. (Nasdaq: WEBT) inched past analysts' estimates in its fourth quarter Monday, earning $1.2 million, or 8 cents a share, on sales of $7.4 million. It also announced a 2-for-1 stock split.

    Its shares closed up 6 to 95 5/8 ahead of the earnings report.

    First Call consensus expected it to earn 7 cents a share in the quarter.

    The $7.4 million in sales marks a 200 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it pocketed $101,000, or 1 cent a share, on sales of $2.5 million.

    For the year, WebTrends earned $2.7 million, or 21 cents a share, compared to a profit of $220,000, or 2 cents a share, in fiscal 1998.

    "The momentum built significantly through the year across all product categories, all channels and all regions to such an extent that fourth quarter sales in each of our product categories exceeded their results in the full prior year and enabled us to triple our revenues in the quarter," said CEO Eli Shapira in a prepared release.

    Company officials said shareholders of record on Feb. 8 will receive one share of common stock for each share held. New shares will be mailed out around Feb. 29. The split is expected to increase the number of shares of common stock outstanding to about 26 million shares.