Excite@Home meets forecasts, reports jump in subscribers

The high-speed Internet access provider reports a quarterly loss in line with Wall Street's expectations and shows solid subscriber growth.

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Excite@Home, a major high-speed Internet access provider, reported a quarterly loss Tuesday that was in line with Wall Street's expectations and showed solid subscriber growth.

see story: Exits herald new era at Excite@Home The company, which is owned in large part by AT&T and other big cable operators, posted a third-quarter pro forma loss of $41.6 million, or 10 cents a share, excluding certain non-recurring expenses--wider when compared with a loss of $4.2 million, or 1 cent, for the same period a year ago.

Equity analysts predicted the company would lose 10 cents per share, according to a consensus compiled by First Call/Thomson Financial.

Quarterly revenue for the period ended Sept. 30 increased to $169.9 million, up from $112.6 million last year.

Excite@Home offers high-speed Internet access over cable modems for roughly $40 per month. The company also offers business Net connectivity services and operates a variety of Web portals and other domestic and international online media properties.

The company has had a roller-coaster year as its strategy and ownership have been in question, its stock price has been roiled, and its executive management has changed. But Excite@Home has made many changes, including forsaking profits in favor of subscriber growth, to claim its stake to the high-speed, or "broadband," market before its expected explosion of growth among U.S. consumers.

Excite@Home, which recently topped 2 million high-speed Internet customers, closed the quarter with 500,000 new subscribers for a total of 2.3 million customers, exceeding many analysts' expectations. Most analysts expected the company to add about 400,000 new subscribers during the quarter, bringing its total to 2.2 million.

The subscriber count is, and will continue to be, a closely watched figure for Excite@Home, which has publicly committed to reaching 3 million customers by the end of the year. The company, which took 48 months to see story: AT&T consolidates control over
Excite@Home sign up its first 1 million customers and just nine months to reach 2 million, is scrambling to at least come close to the 3 million year-end goal.

Executives plan to have 6 million customers by the end of next year and 10 million by the end of 2002.

The company Tuesday said its expects fourth-quarter subscriber growth of between 25 percent and 30 percent. A 25 percent growth rate would translate to nearly 2.9 million subscribers. Growth of 30 percent would put the company at more than 3 million customers by the end of the year.

According to First Call, analysts expect a fourth-quarter loss of about 6 cents per share.