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Webvan meets 4Q forecasts

Webvan Group (Nasdaq: WBVN) met fourth quarter estimates and said it would speed up its expansion plans.

After market close Thursday, the online grocer reported a fourth quarter net loss of $25.7 million, or 8 cents per share, on a pro forma basis that excludes special charges and assumes preferred shares were converted to common. First Call's survey of seven analysts predicted a loss of 8 cents per share.

Including charges related to stock compensation, Webvan lost $49 million, or 22 cents per share, in the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter revenue rose to $9.1 million, a 136 percent improvement from $3.8 million in the previous period, the company's first full quarter of retail operation.

Also Thursday, Webvan said it would step up its timetable for expansion.

The company, which currently sells groceries only in northern California's Bay Area, now plans to enter 15 markets by the end of 2001. Webvan, which said plans for an Atlanta launch in the second quarter remain on track, has signed construction contracts in eight other markets. Webvan's original expansion plan targeted 26 markets in three years.

Shares of Webvan have tumbled since going public in November. The stock closed Thursday's regular trading at 13 3/4, down 3/8 for the session and below its IPO price of 15.

All seven analysts polled by Zack's Investment Research maintain some sort of "buy" rating on Webvan.