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Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch beats Street in 4Q

Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch Inc. (Nasdaq: TMCS) posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its fourth quarter Wednesday, losing $48.9 million, or 58 cents a share, on sales of $36.4 million.

First Call consensus expected it to lose 60 cents a share in the quarter.

Its shares closed off 13/16 to 42 13/16 ahead of the earnings report.

The $36.4 million in sales represents a 168 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it lost $16.8 million, or 26 cents a share, on sales of $13.6 million.

For the year, it lost $121.4 million, or $1.59 a share, on sales of $105.3 million compared to a loss of $72.6 million, or $1.16 a share, on sales of $40.2 million in fiscal 1998.

"We continue to deliver on our mission to be the place on the Web where people come to get things done locally," said CEO Charles Conn in a prepared release.

In the quarter, Ticketmaster-CitySearch recorded a 204 percent jump in traffic from the year-ago quarter and 69 percent from the third quarter.

Its combined reach among home and work users increased to 8.9 percent in December, up from 4.7 percent in December 1998. It checked in with 5.8 million registered unique users, up 118 percent from the year-ago quarter.

Ticketing revenue increased 262 percent from the same period last year, averaging $1.7 million in gross sales per day.

It sold 3.3 million tickets in the quarter at an average convenience and handling charge of $6.46 per ticket.

Last quarter, Ticketmaster-CitySearch beat Street estimates by 8 cents a share, losing $31.7 million, or 47 cents a share, on sales of $27.4 million.

Its shares charged up to a 52-week high of 66 in December after falling to a low of 17 7/8 in October.

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

First Call consensus expects it to lose $2.18 a share in fiscal 2000.