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iVillage reports smaller 4Q loss

    iVillage Inc. (Nasdaq: IVIL) reported a hefty loss for its fourth quarter Thursday, but beat estimates. The online women's network said its fourth quarter loss was $1.04 a share, beating First Call's projected loss of $1.24 a share.

    Shares closed at 18 11/16 Wednesday, approaching new lows in the stock's long, steady decline from its 52-week high of 130. The stock recently got a thumbs up from an analyst, along with its competitor, Women.com (Nasdaq: WOMN).

    IVillage said its net loss was $29.9 million for the fourth quarter, or $1.04 a share, compared to a net loss of $28.4 million for the third quarter, or $1.12 a share. Net loss for the same period a year ago was $11.2 million or a whopping $5.31 a share.

    iVillage said an 80 percent sequential increase in revenue and 153 percent improvement in gross profit narrowed its EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) loss over the third quarter 1999 to just $19 million. IVillage said it expects EBITDA to be positive by the middle of 2001.

    Net revenue increased 227 percent to $19.3 million for the fourth quarter, compared $5.9 million for 1998's fourth quarter of 1998. Net revenues were up 80 percent over the prior quarter.

    Year-end results included net revenues of $44.6 million compared to $15.0 million in 1998, an increase of 197 percent. Net loss for the year was $5.58 a share; First Call had predicted a loss of $4.10 a share.

    Membership increased 344 percent to about 4.2 million for the fourth quarter and traffic grew 108 percent to 137 million average monthly page views, the company said.

    iVillage reported media revenues were up 241 percent to $16.3 million for the fourth quarter over 1998's comparable quarter, and it signed 13 new major sponsorship agreements over $1 million in the quarter.

    "We believe that this success validates the online women's space as a viable advertising medium for blue-chip offline and online companies" said CEO Candice Carpenter in a press release.

    The iVillage results come just a few hours after Women.com reported earnings.

    Competitor Women.com checked in with a smaller-than-expected loss in its fourth quarter, losing $9.3 million, or 21 cents a share, on sales of $12.2 million.

    First Call consensus expected Women.com to lose 22 cents a share in the quarter.

    Its shares peaked at 23 3/8 in November before falling to a low of 10 9/16 earlier this month. Women.com shares closed up 1/16 to 12 ahead of the earnings report.

    Oxygen Media is also edging in on the market for women online. Headed by former Nickelodeon executive Geraldine Laybourne, the company backed by Disney (DIS: NYSE) and Oprah Winfrey, and bound to go public soon.