MarchFirst

(MRCH)

reported an operating loss for the fourth quarter that was much wider than Wall Street had expected, the second quarter in a row the company

badly missed estimates.

The company said it lost $73.2 million, or 40 cents a share. Fourteen analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

were expecting the company to lose 30 cents in the quarter. The company earned 16 cents in the year-ago period. Using generally accepted accounting principles, MarchFirst lost $6.8 billion, or $37.09 a share, in the latest fourth quarter.

Revenue totaled $213.5 million for the period, up from $133 million a year ago. "We continued to see demand slow throughout the fourth quarter," the company said in a statement. "We believe our clients are committed to their strategic business initiatives, yet concern over the recent economic slowdown has caused them to spend cautiously.''

The professional services and consulting company expects to record a charge of about $130 million for its previously announced workforce reduction and restructuring. The company recorded $48.9 million of the charge in the fourth quarter of 2000 and expects to take the remaining charge in the first quarter.

The company, which is based in Chicago, reduced its workforce by about 2,100 employees to balance its service-delivery capability with market demand.

The company said it expects revenue of between $190 million and $215 million and a loss, excluding items, of 22 cents to 31 cents a share in the first quarter. Analysts expect the company to lose 6 cents in the upcoming quarter.