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Tech Industry

Earnings Roundup: Viant, EarthWeb surprise

Internet services firm Viant Corp. (Nasdaq: VIAN) shattered analysts' estimates in its fourth quarter Thursday, pocketing $3.7 million, or 14 cents a share, on sales of $23.7 million.

Analysts were expecting a profit of 3 cents a share in the quarter.

Viant shares closed up 1 7/8 to 100 ahead of the earnings report.

The $23.7 million in sales marks a 286 percent jump from the year-ago quarter when it lost $3.2 million, or 21 cents a share, on sales of $6.1 million.

"We experienced another extremely successful quarter that enabled us to achieve profitable results for the full year 1999, far ahead of our original expectations," said CEO Bob Gett in a prepared release. "Well-developed client relationships continue to bring us additional engagements, and we are enjoying accelerated new business demand."

Gross profit margins improved to 58 percent in the quarter, up from 55 percent in the third quarter and 40 percent in the year-ago quarter.

Viant surprised analysts in its third quarter, earning $1.6 million, or 6 cents a share, on sales of $18.8 million.

For the year, Viant earned $1.4 million, or 6 cents a share, on sales of $61.3 million, up 206 percent from fiscal 1998 when it lost $6.5 million, or 46 cents a share, on sales of $20 million.

Viant raced up to an all-time high of 127 1/8 in December after bottoming out at 18 ? in June.

All nine analysts following the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

Among other technology companies reporting earnings Thursday:

  • EarthWeb Inc. (Nasdaq: EWBX) posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its fourth quarter, losing $5.7 million, or 58 cents a share, on sales of $11.5 million.

    First Call consensus expected it to lose $1.03 a share in the quarter.

    The $11.5 million in sales represents a whopping 701 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it lost $3.8 million, or 54 cents a share, on sales of $1.4 million.

    For the year, EarthWeb lost $22.6 million, or $2.46 a share, on sales of $31.1 million compared to a loss of $9 million, or $1.51 a share, on sales of $3.3 million in fiscal 1998.

    Its shares peaked at 89 in April before falling to a low of 25 3/8 in June.

  • PairGain Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: PAIR) was tagged by shrinking profit margins in its fourth quarter but it still managed to top consensus estimates.

    PairGain posted a profit of $1.3 million, or 2 cents a share, on sales of $51.6 million. That sum, however, includes a $5.5 million tax benefit and a charge of $2.5 million. Excluding one-time items, PairGain reported a loss of 5 cents a share.

    First Call consensus expected it to lose 5 cents a share in the quarter.

    PairGain shares closed up 3/4 to 13 1/2 ahead of the earnings report.

    Gross profit margins were 34.5 percent in the quarter, down slightly from 34.7 percent in the third quarter.

    For the year, PairGain earned $2.4 million, or 3 cents a share, on sales of $224.9 million down from a profit of $39.5, or 53 cents a share, on sales of $283.1 million in the year-ago quarter.

    Gross profit margins for fiscal 1999 were 38.4 percent compared to 48.2 percent in fiscal 1998.

  • E-Stamp Corp. (Nasdaq: ESTM) posted a wider-than-expected loss in its fourth quarter, losing $27.8 million, or 81 cents a share, on sales of $960,000.

    First Call consensus expected it to lose 48 cents a share in the quarter.

    In the year-ago quarter, it lost $3.5 million, or 16 cents a share.

    Its shares closed off 7/16 to 16 9/16 ahead of the earnings report.