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Lante shares rise on profit expectations

Shares of the business e-commerce company soar nearly 20 percent on hopes that the company will turn profitable sooner than expected.

    Shares of business e-commerce company Lante today soared nearly 20 percent on hopes that the company will turn profitable sooner than expected.

    In afternoon trading, Lante shares were ahead $3.53 to $21 before settling down to $20.25 at the 1 p.m. PT close of regular trading.

    While most of its rivals, including Scient, iXL and Proxicom, saw stocks skid today on the weight of disappointing financial results from software giant Microsoft, Lante instead enjoyed a positive run that came a day ahead of its first-quarter earnings report. For the most part, technology stocks were trading in the red, pulling down the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index.

    Lante, which helps customer build Web businesses, is slated to release first-quarter earnings tomorrow after the closing bell, marking its first earnings announcement since it went public in February. Analysts polled by First Call expect the company to post a loss of 5 cents a share.

    Rich Leggett, a financial analyst at Friedman Billings Ramsey, & Co., said Lante's positive stock run is fueled by anticipated strong quarterly results.

    "This quarter should be a very strong quarter," said Leggett, who recently upgraded the company's stock to a "buy" rating from "accumulate." Leggett, who called the company's recent quarter a "blowout," also said that Lante's rosy earnings report tomorrow may help the company achieve profitability quicker than expected.

    Most analysts foresee Lante to turn a profit by the second half of next year.

    In February, Lante saw its shares more than double during its market debut, opening on the Nasdaq at $42 per share after pricing at $20.

    Other Internet consulting firms that are scheduled to report quarterly earnings results this week include Sapient, AppNet, Viant and iXL.