DoubleClick Posts Wider Loss on Revenue Drop in Q3

Internet advertising agency DoubleClick (Nasdaq: DCLK) on Thursday reported that its revenue dropped by nearly a third and that it posted a loss for the third quarter ended September 30th, saying that corporate spending cutbacks have pinched the company’s business.

The company had warned that last month’s terrorist attacks on the UnitedStates had hurt sales of both online advertising and software, so the losswas expected. In a conference call with investors Thursday, chief executiveofficer Kevin Ryan said things are now looking up.

“We’re now seeing business return to a pre-September 11th level,” Ryan toldinvestors in a conference call. The fourth quarter and next year, he said,should be better than previously thought “due to the success we’re havingwith cost cuts and new products.”

Yet DoubleClick said it will continue to lose money in the fourth quarter.The company predicted a loss for the fourth quarter of 3 to 5 cents pershare on revenue of US$84 million to $92 million.

As of mid-morning Friday, DoubleClick shares were trading at $7.88, up 39 cents.

Down 31 Percent

DoubleClick said revenue for the third quarter fell 31 percent from a yearearlier to $92.7 million, while the loss before non-cash and other chargestotaled $12.6 million or 9 cents per share. In the year-earlier quarter,the company earned $3.7 million or 3 cents per share.

DoubleClick’s third quarter net loss was $103.5 million or 77 cents a share. A year ago, the company had a net loss of $10.7 million or 9 cents per share.

Direct Response

According to Ryan, the company’s increased focus on direct marketing should help it in the future. Direct-response marketing, which advertisers tend to favorwhen they run short of cash, now accounts for more than 40 percent ofDoubleClick’s gross profit, up from “almost nothing” three years ago, hesaid.

“Marketers tend to shift dollars into direct response marketing in toughmarket environments, and DoubleClick will benefit from this trend,” he said.”Direct marketing is now a significant business for DoubleClick,” and itwill “continue to be a larger and larger share of our business,” Ryan toldinvestors.

DoubleClick has been broadening its business as demand for onlineadvertising remains in a slump. The company is buying rival MessageMedia(Nasdaq: MESG) in a move to broaden its client base and give it access tolicensed software. On Thursday, DoubleClick said it lowered the price it will pay forMessageMedia due to a decline in stock prices.

Tight Ship

DoubleClick said that it had $778 million in cash and marketable securities onhand at quarter’s end. During the quarter, the company retired $20.3 millionof long-term debt and boosted net cash by $6.7 million. Some of theproceeds were used to buy back shares, a move chief financial officer BruceDalziel said will shield shareholders against dilution of earnings in futureyears.

DoubleClick said it has cut expenses and will continue to do so as it aimsfor a profit next year. “We are running a very tight ship,” Dalziel said.

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