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Netpliance slips past estimates in second quarter

Netpliance posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its second quarter Thursday, losing $40.9 million, or 68 cents a share, on sales of $2.9 million.

A survey of analysts by First Call Corp. predicted it would lose 71 cents a share in the quarter.

Netpliance (Nasdaq: NPLI) shares fell 3/16 to 7 1/2 ahead of the earnings report.

In the first quarter, Netpliance posted a loss of 69 cents a share on sales of $1.3 million.

"We are encouraged by the accelerating enthusiasm of our existing members, which has been demonstrated through increased referrals, improved member retention rates and favorable satisfaction surveys," said CEO John McHale in a prepared release. "We are also pleased with the early market reception of our next generation i-opener 2001 membership program, which will incorporate new and enhanced applications."

Company officials said its i-opener service membership jumped to more than 44,000 in the quarter, more than double that at the close of the first quarter.

After its lukewarm initial public offering in March, Netpliance shares fell from a 52-week high of 26 1/8 to a low of 4 1/8 in May.

Both analysts following the stock rate it a "buy."

Analysts are expecting it to post a loss of $2.63 a share in the fiscal year.