Niku's third-quarter loss smaller than expected

Niku topped analysts' estimates in its third quarter Wednesday when it reported a loss of $16.9 million, or 23 cents a share, on sales of $21 million.

First Call Corp. consensus expected the Internet software and services provider to lose 29 cents a share in the quarter.

Niku (Nasdaq: NIKU) shares closed off 94 cents to $15.75 ahead of the earnings report.

In the year-ago quarter, Niku posted a loss of $5.2 million, or 85 cents a share, on sales of $2 million.

"Our growing list of customers validates our view of the breadth and depth of the services relationship management market opportunity," said CEO Farzad Dibachi in a prepared release. "We look forward to continuing to execute on our vision."

In the quarter licensing sales improved to $12 million, up 33 percent from the second quarter. Services and marketplace sales jumped to $7.8 million and $1.2 million, up 178 percent and 71 percent, respectively, from the previous quarter.

Niku shares fell to a 52-week low of $10.25 in October after peaking at $105.81 in March.

All five analysts following the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

Analysts are forecasting a loss of 88 cents a share in the fiscal year.