Fatbrain.com posts loss in 1Q

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Fatbrain.com posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its first quarter Tuesday. On a pro forma basis, it lost $8.5 million, or 65 cents a share, on sales of $14 million.

Company officials also said the company plans to reach profitability sometime in 2002.

First Call Corp. consensus predicted it would lose 88 cents a share in the quarter. Including a variety of charges, Fatbrain.com lost $13 million, or $1 a share, in the quarter.

Ahead of the earnings report, Fatbrain.com (Nasdaq: FATB) closed off 5/16 to 9 11/16.

Earlier this quarter, Fatbrain.com advised Wall Street that its total sales would fall between $13.5 million and $14 million, slightly ahead of expectations.

Online sales jumped to $12.1 million, up 170 percent from the $4.5 million it recorded in the year-ago period.

In the year-ago quarter, the online retailer of training manuals and provider of information services posted a loss of $5.2 million, or 46 cents a share, on sales of $6.1 million.

In the quarter, Fatbrain.com added 58,000 new customers, increasing its total customer base to more than 300,000. Online customer accounts increased 24 percent from the previous quarter, and repeat customer business represented 61 percent of order dollars placed.

"We are extremely pleased with our progress during the first quarter," said CEO Dennis Capovilla in a prepared release. "Our record results demonstrate our continued success in serving corporations seeking to streamline the management and fulfillment of their information resources, including new customers Wells Fargo and Vignette."

Last quarter, Fatbrain.com topped analysts' estimates, losing $10 million, or 79 cents a share, on sales of $11.9 million.

Its shares moved up to a 52-week high of 42 1/4 in November before tumbling to a low of 4 1/8 in May.

Five of the six analysts covering the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

Analysts expect it to lose $3.91 a share in the fiscal year.