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Earnings Roundup: Checkfree, Juno, 1-800-Flowers beat estimates

CheckFree Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: CKFR) posted results better than the loss of 10 cents a share predicted by First Call. The company said net loss for its first quarter was $3.9 million, or 8 cents a share, due to higher than expected revenue and growth in all the key metrics of its online billing business.

Shares slipped 2 9/16 to 35 11/16. The stock rose after the company met expectations in its fourth quarter -- it had taken a plunge as traditional banks moved into its arena in June.

Revenue of $69 million was up 21 percent compared to $56.8 million for the same quarter of 1999. Net loss compared to a loss of 5 cents a share for the same period in fiscal 1999.

"Internet-based subscriber growth, billers signed, billers live with electronic billing and payment, distribution sites live on the Internet, and transactions processed -- all were strong indicators of a market on the move,'' said CheckFree Chairman and CEO Pete Kight

CheckFree said it signed 13 new contracts to provide electronic billing and payment services to billers in the quarter, bringing to 77 the total number of billers under contract. The company also exited the quarter processing nearly 13 million transactions per month, up from roughly 12 million in June.

Financial institution partners removing inactive accounts resulted in a slight uptick in subscriber growth for the quarter, the company added, but this had little effect on CheckFree's financial results, as the accounts were dormant. Checkfree said for the second quarter it will also have a one-time deletion of about 200,000 more subscribers than usual to remove subscribers using personal financial software that is not Y2K compliant, but they should not affect year-end expectations.

CheckFree's electronic commerce division, investment services, and software division all met expectations, and Checkfree said it is comfortable with published expectations of a nine- to 11-cent loss per-share for the second quarter.

In other earnings news:

  • Juno Online Services, Inc. (Nasdaq: JWEB) posted a loss of 46 cents a share for the quarter, beating First Call's predicted loss of 50 cents a share.

    Shares rose 1/2 to 16, or 3 percent in early trading Wednesday.

    Operating loss before subscriber acquisition costs was just 7 cents a share. "The 49 percent sequential quarterly improvement in our operating margin was driven largely by revenue growth, reduced costs of providing service on a per-subscriber basis, and efficiencies gained in operations and product development efforts," said Rick Eaton, Juno's chief financial officer.

    The provider of Internet-related services, reported revenue of $13.1 million for the third quarter, a 155 percent increase over revenues of $5.1 million in the same period in 1998.

  • 1-800-Flowers.com (Nasdaq: FLWS), an e-commerce provider of flowers and gift products, beat First Call's expected loss of 36 cents a share, posting a net loss of $17.1 million, or 31 cents a share, compared with a net loss of 5 cents a share in the first quarter of 1999.

    Shares fell 1/16 to 12 7/8.

    The widened loss reflects investments made to support its growth strategy, the company said, adding that revenue increases were especially significant considering the seasonal effect slower summer months and fewer gift-related holidays.

    Revenue was $58.1 million for the first quarter, an increase of 22.1 percent compared with revenues of $47.6 million in the same period a year ago. Revenues from online sales increased 88.1 percent to $11.8 million while telephone sales increased 9.5 percent.