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Liberate&#039s 3Q loss smaller than expected

    Internet software developer Liberate Technologies easily topped analysts' estimates in its third quarter Tuesday, posting a loss of $12.1 million, or 14 cents a share, on sales of $7.5 million.

    First Call consensus expected Liberate (Nasdaq: LBRT) to lose 18 cents a share in the quarter.

    The maker of software for Internet appliances saw its shares close off 3 1/8 to 70 ahead of the earnings report.

    The $7.5 million in sales marks a 68 percent improvement compared to the year-ago quarter when it lost $6.1 million, or 11 cents a share, on sales of $4.5 million.

    "These quarterly results reflect continued customer demand for our platform, and continued growth for Liberate as a business," said CEO Mitchell Kertzman in a prepared release.

    Last quarter, Liberate beat Street estimates, losing $12.5 million, or 30 cents a share, on sales of $6.1 million.

    Ahead of its 2-for-1 split in January, Liberate shares peaked at 148 1/2 after trading at a low of 7 3/16 in August.

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

    First Call consensus expects it to lose 63 cents a share in the fiscal year.

    Shares of Liberate have slid more than 45 percent since peaking at the end of December. Liberate was spun off from Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL), which remains its largest shareholder with more than 47 percent of the company.