techTrader: EarthWeb, Cheap Tickets top estimates

Apparently, a strong Internet demand for talking, cheap tickets and Web services.

EarthWeb posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its third quarter Tuesday, losing $9m (£5.4m), or 93 cents a share, on sales of $8.7m. Its shares closed off 1 1/2 to 32 1/2 ahead of the earnings report.

The $8.7m in sales represents an 817 percent improvement versus the year-ago quarter when it lost $2.4m, or 41 cents a share, on sales of $900,000. "EarthWeb has made great strides this quarter in executing our strategic plan for continued growth by establishing customer relationships with a growing number of large corporations across major industries," said CEO Jack Hidary in a prepared release. "These results validate our strategy of providing a total solution to one of the most important segments of the business population."

In the quarter, sales from advertising and paid listings accounted for 83 percent of total revenues, compared to 86 percent of total revenues in the second quarter. Gross profit margins improved to 64.4 percent compared to 64.1 percent in the second quarter and 36.3 percent in the year-ago quarter.

Its shares moved up to a 52-week high of 89 in April before falling to a low of 25 3/8 in June. All seven analysts following the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

Among other technology companies reporting earnings Tuesday:

  • Cheap Tickets inched past analysts' estimates in its third quarter, earning $2.6m, or 11 cents a share, on sales of $110.2m. First Call consensus expected the online ticket retailer to earn 10 cent a share in the quarter. Its shares closed up 3/4 to 23 3/4 Tuesday.

    The $110.2m in sales marks a 118 percent gain above the year-ago quarter when it earned $803,000, or 4 cents a share, on sales of $50.4m.

  • Talk.com also topped Street estimates in the quarter, earning $14.6m, or 23 cents share, on sales of $140m. First Call consensus predicted it would earn 22 cents a share. In the year-ago quarter, it lost $41.7m, or $1.58 a share, on sales of $122.5m. Its shares closed up 5/16 to 16 3/4 ahead of its earnings report.

    First Call consensus expects it to earn 86 cents a share in the fiscal year.

  • Mail.com reported a smaller-than-expected loss in its third quarter Tuesday, losing $11.2m, or 26 cents a share, on sales of $3.4m. Analysts were looking for a loss of 31 cents a share in the quarter.

    Its shares closed off 1/8 to 14 Tuesday.

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