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Expedia beats 4Q forecasts

Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE) lost much less than analysts expected in the fourth quarter.

After market close Monday, the online travel service reported a fiscal fourth quarter net loss of $13 million, or 30 cents per share, excluding amortization and special charges. First Call's survey of eight analysts predicted a loss of 47 cents per share for the quarter ended June 30.

Shares of Expedia traded at 18 1/2 in afterhours activity on the Island electronic communications network, immediately following the release of fourth quarter results. Expedia stock closed Monday's regular trading at 17 1/8, up 1 1/16 for the session.

Including goodwill writedowns and charges related to stock compensation, Expedia lost $42.4 million, or 98 cents per share.

Fourth quarter revenue for Expedia, which is majority-owned by Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), increased to $70 million, a 164 percent gain year-over-year and 19 percent improvement from the third quarter. Transaction commissions and agency fees generated $21 million. Merchant revenue was $42 million.

For the full fiscal 2000, Expedia lost $56 million before special charges, on revenue of $208 million.

Gross travel bookings in the fourth quarter increased to 124 percent year-over-year to $450 million. About 4.1 percent of people looking for travel fares booked through Expedia during the quarter, compared to 3.8 percent in the third quarter. The company credited its "Build Your Own Trip" service for the higher conversion rate.

Revenue from merchants grew 237 percent year-over-year and 25 percent from the third quarter, though commissions and fees from airline ticket sales generated less than 30 percent of Expedia's overall revenue.>