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Excite@Home misses 1Q targets, sees more red ink ahead

Excite@Home missed analysts' estimates in its first quarter Wednesday, posting a loss of $4.6 million, or 1 cent a share, on sales of $138 million. It also said it will report an operating loss of between 25 cents and 30 cents a share this year.

First Call consensus expected Excite@Home to break even in the quarter.

Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM) shares fell 2 15/16 to 19 15/16 ahead of the earnings report.

The $138 million in sales represents a 75 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it lost $6 million, or 2 cents a share, on sales of $78.7 million.

In its release, company officials said it will increase its international spending, resulting in a likely operating loss of between 25 cents to 30 cents a share in the fiscal year.

Analysts were expecting a profit of 10 cents a share this year.

Excite@Home shares have fallen on hard times of late, slumping to a 52-week low of 18 1/16 earlier this month after surging as high as 84 13/16 last April.

In the quarter, the company added 350,000 residential broadband subscribers to a total of 1.5 million, up 30 percent from the fourth quarter.

Traffic surged to 144 million page views a day in March, up 17 percent from December and 85 percent from the year-ago quarter.

It recorded 64 million registered users in the quarter, up from 28 million in the year-ago quarter.

"This was our best quarter ever for broadband subscriber growth -- the most important measure in defining broadband leadership," said CEO George Bell in a prepared release. "In addition, with the launch of @Home 2000, our leadership now extends to the delivery of broadband content, fulfilling the vision of the merger between Excite and @Home."

Last quarter, Excite@Home met analysts' estimates, earning $514,000 on sales of $128.8 million.

Excite@Home officials set a target of 3 million residential broadband subscribers by year's end as well as a total sales goal of $2 billion by 2002.

Fourteen of the 17 analysts following the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.