Ariba in the black for first time

After a long anticipation, Ariba, the B2B enabler is finally turning a profit. Analysts are pleased.

Ariba Inc. pleased Wall Street and the company's investors when it reported late today that it had turned a profit for the first time.

The Mountain View, Calif., company reported net income of $14 million, or $.05 per share, on revenues of $170.2 million, in the first quarter 2001, ended Dec. 31, 2000.

That's a 625 percent revenue jump, from $23.5 million in the same period last year, and a move into the black from a $5.6 million loss last year. For the next quarter, Ariba expects revenues between $180 million to $185 million and earnings per share of $0.06.

The company also is optimistic about the year ahead, saying it expects to rake in between $780 million and $790 million in revenue for 2001, with an anticipated EPS of $0.25 or $0.26.

During the conference call announcing its earnings, Ariba executives emphasized that the B2B player is primed and ready for any economic downturn. The company said 90 percent of its customers are large enterprises and not dot-coms, and that 30 percent of its revenue was generated overseas.

"This positions us well for any economic environment, and positions us well for that next level of growth," said Larry Mueller, president and COO.

Helping to fuel that growth, the company said, will be a roll out this quarter of new collaborative software designed to enable what Ariba calls the interactive value chain.

Analysts were pleased with the results, but concerned about the company's move from term licenses to perpetual licenses. All of Ariba's new deals are based on a term, usually three years, and the company said it hopes to move existing customers to term licenses, as well, when they upgrade. Term licenses, however, cost less than perpetual licenses, although Ariba execs declined to say at what discount.

The results were reported after the close of trading on Thursday.