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Women.com narrows losses in 1Q

    Women.com Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: WOMN) topped consensus estimates by 3 cents Wednesday with a first quarter loss of 16 cents a share.

    First Call consensus called for a loss of 19 cents a share.

    Women.com said revenue was $14.4 million, up 320 percent from the $3.4 million reported the first quarter of 1999. Women.com said sales of $14.4 million were encouraging since the first quarter is seasonally slower. First quarter sales were 7 percent higher than the $13.4 million reported in the seasonally strong fourth quarter.

    CFO Michael D. Perry said the company expects strong year-over-year sales growth in the second quarter. Perry, who said he was optimistic about 2000 prospects, said the company's operating loss will narrow in each subsequent quarter of this year. On a conference call, Perry said Women.com has enough cash to last through the first quarter of 2001, and until the company becomes profitable.

    The results were strong, but Women.com hasn't been able to impress investors. Women.com closed at 5 15/16 Tuesday, and have fallen steadily since peaking at 23 3/8 shortly after the company went public in October. Despite getting a thumbs up from analysts, Women.com and competitor iVillage (Nasdaq: IVIL) have lagged. The Women.com networks ranked 38th by unique visitors according to Media Metrix statistics for February. iVillage was just ahead of it ranked at 31. iVillage shares closed at 11 1/3 Tuesday, far below their 52-week high of 130.

    Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE: MSO), which went public in October and dishes out content for a female audience, has also tumbled from a high of 47 1/2. Shares closed at 15 3/4 Tuesday.

    Women.com's pro forma net loss for the quarter was $7.6 million, or 16 cents per diluted share, which excludes a non-cash charge for acquisition-related goodwill amortization, a non-cash charge for stock-based compensation, and a one-time writedown related to discontinuing the company's direct retail program, "She Gets Dressed."

    The first quarter loss compares to a pro forma net loss of $8.9 million, or 33 cents a share for the same period a year ago, excluding charges for goodwill amortization and stock-based compensation. Including these charges, net loss for quarter was $15.5 million, or 34 cents a diluted share compared to a net loss of $13.2 million or 48 cents a share for the comparable quarter last year.

    Traffic on Women.com's network of sites grew to an average of 188 million page views per month during the first quarter, up over 60 percent from 1999's first quarter, and up 25 percent from the previous fourth quarter. Women.com's membership base grew to 2.9 million members, up 270 percent from the same period a year ago, and up 38 percent from December 1999.

    Women.com expanded its agreement with America Online (NYSE: AOL) during the quarter to include a wider range of content from on AOL's sites. Women.com also initiated a deal with Alta Vista to be the exclusive content provider for its new co-branded Women's channel.

    Oxygen Media and Lifetime Entertainment Services, a joint venture between Hearst and Walt Disney, are among Women.com's competitors.


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