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Ticketmaster-CitySearch reports loss

The online city guide and ticket agent may sport a cumbersome name, but its losses become a bit less cumbersome in the fourth quarter.

Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch reported today net loss of $16.9 million, or 26 cents per share, for its fourth quarter, beating Wall Street estimates.

The consensus estimate was a loss of 31 cents per share, according to First Call.

In the December quarter, the company, a combination of Web-based city guides and live event ticketing sales formed by the merger of Ticketmaster OnlineCitySearch in September, said revenues on a pro forma basis were $13.6 million, up 143 percent compared to the previous year.

The ticketing business saw the greatest growth, rising 198 percent to $5.8 million, from $1.9 million last year. City guides revenues, which come mostly from sales of business Web sites and classified advertising, increased 114 percent to $5.2 million, from $2.5 million last year. And sales of sponsorships and ads on the site added $2.5 million to the company's coffers, up from $1.2 million last year.

"We are particularly pleased to see such solid growth in online ticketing," said Charles Conn, chief executive of Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch.

Earlier this month, Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch bought CityAuction, an online auction site, in a stock deal estimated to be worth $54 million. CityAuction competes directly with eBay in the person-to-person auction market, but is much smaller. At the end of 1998, CityAuction had 47,000 registered users, compared to eBay's 2.1 million users.

Investors reacted favorably to Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch's financial results, adding 5.19 to 64 in trading Thursday.