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VerticalNet flies past analysts&#039 1Q estimates

VerticalNet shattered analysts' estimates in its first quarter Wednesday, posting a loss of $12.2 million, or 16 cents a share, on sales of $27.5 million.

First Call Corp. consensus expected the B2B services provider to lose 27 cents a share in the quarter.

Ahead of the earnings report, VerticalNet (Nasdaq: VERT) shares closed up 7/8 to 46.

The $27.5 million in sales marks a 1,320 percent surge compared to the year-ago quarter when it lost $5.3 million, or 9 cents a share, on sales of $1.9 million.

That loss exludes a one-time gain of $79.9 million, resulting from the merger of a publicly traded company and a private company in which VerticalNet was a shareholder.

"This outstanding revenue growth is the result of investments in our business and our aggressive acquisition strategy and is a terrific start to the new fiscal year," said CEO Mark Walsh in a prepared release.

Last quarter, the company topped Street estimates, losing $15.2 million, or 28 cents a share, on sales of $10 million.

Its shares scampered up to a 52-week high of 148 3/8 in March after falling to a low of 13 9/16 in June. It also split 2-for-1 earlier this month.

Sixteen of the 17 analysts covering the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."