Be Free buys TriVida

Be Free beats First Call estimates and announces a split in stock

Online marketer Be Free announced on Wednesday that it would buy TriVida, to improve its ability to predict customer preferences, in an exchange worth about 1.56 million of its shares. The company also topped estimates with a fourth quarter loss of 19 cents (11p) a share, which was narrower than First Call's expected loss of 24 cents (15p) a share, and announced a two-for-one stock split. Shares in the performance-based marketing company closed at 108 1/8 on Tuesday, continuing the ascent made since it bounded onto the market in its November IPO.

Be Free provides services that enable customers to manage hyperlink promotions for their products and services. The customers pay only when these promotions generate sales or traffic. The acquisition of TriVida, a privately held developer of personalisation technology, will incorporate its powerful data analysis engine, giving Be Free the ability to predict consumer preferences based on historical and real-time information.

Under the terms of the agreement, Be Free will exchange about 1.56 million shares for all of the outstanding shares of TriVida. The transaction, subject to approval by TriVida's shareholders, is slated to occur later this month.

Be Free announced on Tuesday that revenue for the fourth quarter increased 579 percent to $2.6m (£1.6m), compared to $386,000 (£239,320) for the fourth quarter of 1998, and increased 100 percent from $1.3m (£806,000) in the third quarter of 1999. Net loss in the fourth quarter was $5.4m (£3.3m), or 30 cents (18p), a share, compared to $1.8m (£1.1m) for the same period in 1998. For the year ending 3 December, revenue increased more than 300 percent to $5.3m (£3.3m), from $1.3m (£806,000) in 1998. The company recorded a net loss of $17.8m (£11m), or $2.04 (£1.26) per share, for 1999. Net loss, excluding non-cash equity related compensation charges and the accretion of preferred stock to its redemption value, was $15.6m (£9.67m), or 87 cents (53p), a share on a pro-forma basis. First Call had expected the company to lose 92 cents (57p) a share for the fiscal year.

Be Free also said that its board of directors has approved a two-for-one stock split, payable on 8 March, to shareholders of record at the close of business on 1 March. The total number of shares outstanding after the split will be approximately 56 million.

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