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NBCi tops Q4 earnings estimates

NBC Internet posted a narrower-than-expected loss and smaller-than-expected revenue in the fourth quarter.

After market close Tuesday, the Web portal operator and online media company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $46.9 million, or 74 cents per share, excluding special charges. NBC Internet (Nasdaq: NBCI) generated fourth-quarter revenue of $31 million.

Analyst consensus predicted a loss of 81 cents per share on revenue of $32.96 million, according to earnings tracking firm First Call.

Shares of NBC Internet traded at $2.94 in after-hours activity on the Island ECN, immediately following the release of fourth-quarter results. NBC Internet stock fell 16 cents to $2.60 in Tuesday's regular trading ahead of the quarterly report.

The company reiterated its previously stated projection of $100 million in 2001 revenue. NBC Internet now expects to lose 65 cents to 75 cents per share on first quarter revenue of $16 million, and sees break-even results in the fourth quarter of this year, or the first quarter of 2002.

NBC Internet expects to lose $2.05 to $2.25 per share in 2001.

First Call consensus predicts a full year loss of $2.17 per share on revenue of $112.35 million.

Including amortization costs, equity-related losses and other one-time charges, NBC Internet in the fourth quarter lost $245 million, or $3.89 per share.

Fourth-quarter revenue increased 14 percent year-over-year. Advertising revenue was $26.1 million for the fourth quarter. E-commerce revenue was $4.9 million.

Barter business--an exchange of advertising for equity--was 46 percent of fourth-quarter revenue.

Pure Internet companies accounted for 59 percent of total advertisers, and 68 percent of total advertising revenue, CFO Anthony Altig said, during an afternoon conference call with analysts. Both percentages were down from the third quarter, and will continue to decrease, Altig said.

"Given the slowdown in the ad market, it's more important than ever for us to keep an eye on the big picture," CEO Will Lansing said. "Internet advertising today accounts for only a small fraction of total ad dollars, and long-term growth projections remain strong. By reaching break-even before non-cash charges and NBC promotion within the next year, NBCi will be in a solid position to be successful in the long run."

NBC Internet plans to cut unprofitable businesses such as product sales, Lansing told analysts. >