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GO.com posts smaller-than-expected 2Q loss

GO.com posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its second quarter Tuesday, dropping $72.6 million, or 47 cents a share, on sales of $97.6 million.

First Call Corp. consensus expected it to lose 54 cents a share in the quarter.

Ahead of the earnings report, GO.com (NYSE: GO) shares added 1/4 to 13 1/2.

Including amortization charges, GO.com, part of Walt Disney Co.'s (NYSE: DIS) media empire, lost $292.2 million, or $1.88 a share, in the quarter.

The $97.6 million in sales represents a 38 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it posted a loss of 21 cents a share on sales of $70.8 million.

In the quarter, GO.com's average daily page views improved 65 percent to 78 million from 47 million in the year-ago quarter. Sequentially, page views jumped 9 percent from 72 million in the first quarter.

Its registered-user base rose 78 percent from the same period last year to a total of 21.5 million.

"The performance of GO.com continues to reflect the nascent stage of both the Internet economy and our Internet business," said Disney CEO Michael Eisner in a prepared release. "Unlike some e-businesses, GO has the advantage of integration with some of the world's most established entertainment brands and it is unique, one-of-a-kind, non-commodity entertainment and information assets like these that will prevail."

Eisner cited GO.com's simultaneous "enhanced TV" feature during ABC's popular quiz show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" as an example of the portal's multimedia appeal. He said more than 2 million viewers logged on to the GO network during the broadcasts.

In the quarter, GO.com's commerce sales improved 90 percent to $18 million from the year-ago quarter with much of those gains coming for Disney travel package sales online.

GO.com CEO Steve Bornstein said that Disney has authorized a 5 million-share buyback at market prices. He also said ABC.com turned a profit in the quarter and that the company will roll out a new portal this summer.

Last quarter, GO.com flew past analysts' estimates, posting a loss of $46 million, or 30 cents a share, on sales of $125.6 million.

Its shares moved as high as 37 11/16 in January before falling to a 52-week low of 11 13/16 in April.

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

Analysts expect it to lose $1.84 a share in the fiscal year.