reported a fourth-quarter loss that was wider than Wall Street analysts projected, but said
made a $50 million investment in the company -- while purchasing an additional 11.3 million shares from founder Jay Walker.
The "name your own price" Internet company said it lost $25 million, or 15 cents a share, before restructuring and other charges. Sixteen analysts polled by
First Call/Thomson Financial
were calling for the company to post a loss of 7 cents a share. The company lost $10 million, or 6 cents a share, in the year-ago period.
Revenue rose 35% to $228.2 million from $169.2 million in the same period last year. The company said its customer base increased by 884,000 in the fourth quarter, raising the company's total customer base to almost 9 million.
The company described the fourth quarter as "difficult," saying that "in addition to being our seasonally weakest quarter, priceline.com was adversely affected by the closing of
, negative news stories about customer satisfaction and the difficulties of other e-commerce businesses."
priceline said that, in addition to the $50 million investment, Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong agreed to purchase $24 million of the company's common stock from Walker. Hutchison will also receive a seat on priceline.com's board.
The company said it expects sequential revenue growth of 15% to 20% for the first quarter, followed by 10% to 15% growth for the second quarter. priceline also projected a loss of 5 cents to 7 cents a share for the first quarter. Analysts expect a loss of 2 cents in the quarter. Still, the company forecast an operating profit, excluding charges and other items, in the second quarter, when Wall Street expects the company to break even.