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Web is rosy for florists

As if sprayed by a quick-grow potion, the stock values of and have grown more than fivefold.

Against a desolate e-commerce landscape, flowers are blooming.

Less than a year ago, the shares of the two largest online florists, and, appeared headed for penny-stock status. As if sprayed by a quick-grow potion, the values of their stocks have since grown more than fivefold.

The latest sign of the companies' growth spurt came Wednesday, as reported its fourth consecutive profitable quarter and projected that it would remain in the black for the rest of the year.

Shares of Downers Grove, Ill.-based FTD have steadily risen from a 52-week low of just over a dollar in December to a closing price Wednesday of $8.02. Rival has climbed from a low of $2.50 in November to $13.30 on Wednesday.

Both companies say they owe their turnarounds to their ability to keep costs low, the flower-buying public's familiarity with their brand names, and the broadening of their product offerings to more than just flowers.

"Our gift business grew 140 percent from the same quarter last year," said Michael Soenen,'s chief executive. "The non-floral segment is now 10 percent of sales."

Non-floral gifts are such items as chocolates, wreathes and greeting cards. Ken Young, a spokesman for Westbury, N.Y.-based, said non-floral gifts make up about 40 percent of that company's revenue.

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In its quarterly report,, the Net arm of one of the country's oldest floral companies, said revenue for the quarter ending June 30, 2001, grew 22 percent to $43.5 million, compared with $35.6 million during the same quarter last year. Net income was $3.6 million, or 7 cents per diluted share. During the same quarter last year, the company lost $11 million, or 23 cents per diluted share.

Young said, which has not yet shown a profit, expects next month to report a second-quarter profit on an EBITDA basis, which is earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.