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Cheap Tickets loses CFO

Struggling online travel site Cheap Tickets announced after the bell Thursday that CFO Dale Jorgenson will retire in February.

Company officials said Jorgenson will remain available to the company after his retirement to assist in getting his replacement up to speed.

Cheap Tickets (Nasdaq: CTIX) shares fell 78 cents a share to a 52-week low of $7.16 ahead of the announcement.

Cheap Tickets said it has begun a search for a new CFO.

"While my time with Cheap Tickets has been very rewarding, I have decided to devote more time to my family and other personal interests,'' Jorgenson said in prepared release.

Jorgenson becomes the latest CFO to either retire or bolt from a struggling online travel agency in the past month. (Nasdaq: PCLN) CFO Heidi Miller announced she would leave William Shatner's favorite travel destination after it warned of disappointing fourth-quarter sales and announced massive layoffs.

Cheap Tickets, along with and Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE), has taken a beating on Wall Street along with the rest of the technology sector.

Cheap Tickets shares were trading at a 52-week high of $20.69 in December before falling to Thursday's low. closed off 6 cents to $2.50 Thursday, off from its 52-week high of $104.25 set in March. Expedia picked up 38 cents to $13.81 but still trades well below its high of $55.75 set in December.

In its third quarter, Cheap Tickets beat the Street estimate by a penny a share, earning $4.3 million, or 18 cents a share, on sales of $121.4 million.

However, that $121.4 million in sales was only a 10 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it earned $2.6 million, or 11 cents a share, on sales of $110.2 million.

Despite its precipitous decline, four of the five analysts following the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

Analysts are predicting a profit of 1 cent a share in fourth quarter and 74 cents a share in fiscal 2001.