NaviSite's 3Q loss smaller than expected

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Web hosting and applications services provider NaviSite posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its third quarter Thursday, losing $16.4 million, or 29 cents a share, on sales of $14.2 million.

A survey of analysts by First Call Corp. pegged NaviSite (Nasdaq: NAVI) for a loss of 39 cents a share in the quarter.

Ahead of the earnings report, NaviSite shares closed off 13/16 to 54 1/8.

The $14.2 million in sales marks a 376 percent jump from the year-ago quarter when it lost $11.4 million, or 21 cents a share, on sales of $3 million.

"This has been another quarter of very strong growth, with a record increase in the size of our customer base," said CEO Joel Rosen in a prepared release.

In the quarter, NaviSite's customer base grew 44 percent, jumping from 196 in the year-ago period to 283. Average annualized sales per customer increased to $201,000 from $187,000 in the second quarter.

Separately, the company said President and Director Bob Eisenberg will be leaving the company to pursue other interests.

Last quarter, NaviSite beat the Street estimate, losing $11.4 million, or 41 cents a share, on sales of $9.2 million.

Its shares screamed up to a 52-week high of 164 15/16 in March before splitting 2-for-1 in April.

All five analysts covering the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

First Call Corp. consensus pegs it for a loss of $1.57 a share in the fiscal year.

CMGI (Nasdaq: CMGI) is a major shareholder in NaviSite, which competes with Exodus (Nasdaq: EXDS) and Globix (Nasdaq: GBLX) among others.