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Roundup: Electronic Arts, Onsale, others beat forecasts

    Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS) easily hurdled analyst estimates in the second quarter.

    After market close Thursday, the largest maker of game software reported a fiscal second quarter profit of $18.1 million, or 28 cents per share. First Call's survey of 13 analysts predicted a profit of 25 cents per share for the quarter ended Sept. 30.

    Second quarter revenue increased to $339 million, a 38 percent gain from $246 million in the year earlier period, when Electronic Arts earned $10.7 million, or 17 cents per share before a one-time charge.

    The company released 17 new titles in the second quarter. North American revenues gained 21 percent year-over-year on the strength of Madden NFL 2000, Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun, and Final Fantasy VIII, the company said. Tiberian Sun also boosted European revenue, which doubled from a year ago, and Asia/Pacific sales, which increased 48 percent.

    Because of Tiberian Sun, PC software improved 140 percent from the second quarter of fiscal 1999, Probst said. Console software were led by Madden 2000 and Final Fantasy VIII, which were the two best-selling games for Sony Playstation in September.

    "The holiday season is off to a strong start again this year," said Larry Probst, chairman and CEO. "We are well on our way to achieving our goals for the year."

    Shares of Electronic Arts rose 2 to 69 7/8 in Thursday's regular trading prior to the earnings announcement. Of 13 Wall Street firms surveyed by Zack's Investment Research, all have some sort of "buy" rating on Electronic Arts stock.

    Other companies reporting quarterly results Thursday:

  • Onsale
  • (Nasdaq: ONSL) lost a penny less than analysts estimated in the third quarter.

    The online retailer and auctioneer reported a third quarter loss of $16.2 million, or 82 cents per share. First Call's survey of nine analysts predicted a loss of 83 cents per share for the quarter ended Sept. 30.

    Third quarter revenue increased to $93.3 million, up 15 percent sequentially and up 61 percent year-over-year. Gross merchandise sales rose to $97.1 million, a 12 percent gain from the second quarter. Gross margin of 3.8 percent in the third quarter was lower than 10.7 percent in the year-earlier period, but higher than 2.9 percent in the second quarter.

    Returning customers generated 51 percent of Onsale's sales, and 74 percent of orders.

    "We accomplished our three goals for the quarter: continue our sales growth, increase margins, and plan for the Egghead.com merger without losing focus on our core business," said Jerry Kaplan, Onsale's president and CEO. "The numbers convey solid growth in what is historically a seasonally weak quarter for online retailers."

    Website traffic rose to an average of 176,000 visitors daily in the third quarter, compared to 171,000 in the second. Registered users increased 12 percent sequentially to more than 1.5 million.

  • Preview Travel
  • (Nasdaq: PTVL) edged past analyst forecasts in the third quarter.

    The online travel agency lost $10.5 million, or 76 cents per share, not including merger-related and stock compensation expenses. First Call consensus predicted a loss of 77 cents per share.

    Including $379,000 in stock compensation and $476,000 in merger-related costs, Preview Travel lost $11.4 million, or 82 cents per share.

    Third quarter revenue increased to $9 million, up from $7.3 million in the second quarter. Company executives credited the sales increase to website upgrades and customer service improvements. Strategic alliances also helped, said Chris Clouser, president and CEO of Preview Travel.

    Advertising revenue rose 50 percent sequentially to $3.6 million. Gross margin of 65.6 percent was down from 67.2 percent in the second quarter, but up year-over-year.

    Registered members increased to more than 9 million, a gain of 900,000 from the second quarter. Online travel gross bookings for the quarter reached $107 million, an 18 percent gain sequentially. Transactions rose to 347,000, up 23 percent from 281,000 in the second quarter.

    Preview Travel recently agreed to merge with the Travelocity unit of Sabre Holdings Corp. (NYSE: TSG).

  • Salon.com
  • (Nasdaq: SALN) cut losses faster than analysts expected in the second quarter.

    The online media company posted a fiscal second quarter net loss of $3.8 million, or 34 cents per share, excluding non-cash charges. Including the charges, Salon lost $4.7 million, 41 cents per share.

    First Call's survey of two analysts predicted a loss of 49 cents per share.

    Money spent to expand Salon's sales force, advertising programs and proprietary content caused the loss, the company said.

    Second quarter revenue of $1.4 million rose 37 percent from $1 million in the first quarter, when Salon lost $4.6 million.

    Salon saw 1.9 million visitors in September, a 46 percent gain from June.

  • Phone.com
  • (Nasdaq: PHCM) cut its losses faster than analysts predicted.

    The company, whose software brings Internet services to wireless phones, lost $4.9 million, or 16 cents per share in its fiscal first quarter. First Call consensus called for a loss of 23 cents per share.

    First quarter revenue increased 27 percent sequentially to $8.5 million from $6.7 million. Phone.com is still in a building mode, executives said.

    "During the first quarter, we continued to focus on rapid acceleration of our business in all of our core markets around the world," said Alain Rossmann, chairman and CEO.

  • Autoweb
  • (Nasdaq: AWEB) beat analyst estimates in the third quarter.

    The online car dealer network lost $4.4 million, or 18 cents per share. That easily topped First Call's consensus estimate, which called for a loss of 27 cents per share.

    Third quarter revenue increased 20 percent sequentially to $8.4 million. "We are extremely pleased with the third quarter's results, including record revenues and traffic to the site," Dean DeBiase, president, chairman and CEO.>