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CheckFree falls on revenue news

The company's shares fall more than 45 percent after it warns that it expects revenues for fiscal 1999 to be much lower than expected.

2 min read
Shares of CheckFree fell more than 45 percent today after the company announced yesterday that it expected revenues for the fiscal year 1999 to be much lower than expected, citing a delay in major banks marketing online banking to consumers.

CheckFree was trading at a new 52-week low, down 10.75 at 13. The stock has traded as high as 31.5 and has closed as low as 17.25 during the past 52-weeks.

The company reported that revenues will be about $20 million lower than was previously expected. CheckFree's new fiscal 1999 plans call for revenues of $245 to $250 million and earnings per share of 12 to 16 cents, compared with previous expectations of $265 to $270 million in revenues and earnings per share of 32 cents.

"New subscriber growth was lower than expected because of a factor we do not control: how quickly our bank clients promote electronic banking services to acquire new subscribers," chief operating officer Pete Sinisgalli said in a statement. "The fact is, more clients than we anticipated delayed promoting electronic bill payment services while they developed their Internet solutions."

While the company had anticipated subscriber growth of 8 percent in the fourth quarter, it was actually 6 percent. CheckFree now forecasts a subscriber growth of 4 percent for the first quarter, 5 percent for the second quarter, and 6 percent for the remainder of the fiscal year.

"Relative to the market's evolution, we are ahead of the game," CEO Pete Kight said in a statement. "We count among our clients 9 out of the top 10 financial institutions, 23 of the top 25, and 40 of the top 50."

Kight added that AT&T had chosen to use CheckFree. "With Microsoft pursuing the bill presentment market, I have been pleasantly surprised by how many long-term contracts with large billers we won in 1998," Kight said.