CMGI

(CMGI)

, the Internet-oriented investment firm, posted a second-quarter loss that was far smaller than Wall Street expectations. The better-than-expected results fueled a sizable stock-price gain in after-hours trading.

However, the most rapid growth on CMGI's income statement was visible in operating losses, while the company's "other income" exceeded its revenues.

For the second fiscal quarter ended Jan. 31, CMGI posted a net loss of $187.8 million, or 74 cents a diluted share, compared with profits of $13 million, or 7 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

had predicted a loss of $1.28 a share.

Shares of CMGI traded at 149 around 5 p.m., according to

Instinet

, after closing regular trading hours at 145 3/8, up 6 7/8, or 4.96% for the day.

The company's revenue nearly quadrupled, to $153.4 million in the latest quarter, compared to $39 million a year earlier.

The company, which finances, develops and pairs up young Internet companies, posted an operating loss of $411.9 million for the quarter. The figure was almost 20 times its loss of $21 million in the year-earlier quarter.

In the "other income" category, selling stock in its subordinates garnered CMGI $5.5 million, compared with $4.2 million in the year-earlier quarter. The company also made stunning gains in "other gains net," a category not described further in its statement. Those gains, not included in revenues, were $166 million, compared with $50 million in the year-earlier quarter.

In a conference call with analysts, company officials said that revenue run rates would reach $2 billion to $2.5 billion next year, and revenues would be higher if the company could include the revenues of recent acquisitions such as

Ubid

(UBID)

. Ubid was purchased last quarter.

The company plans more than a half-dozen initial public offerings of its offspring during the next quarter, including

@Ventures

,

MyWay.com

and

furniture.com

, as well as the long-awaited and delayed

Alta Vista

IPO.

In the conference call, one analyst asked company officials how they measure growth, considering how many times the business strategy has changed in a short period.

Company Chairman David Wetherell said the answer varies from business to business. In general, analysts should pay attention to its Internet companies' page views and advertising revenues, but traditional signposts of growth make little sense for CMGI and its subsidiaries, he said.

In fact, "we want to make sure that we don't get some companies to profitability too quickly," he said. "The nice thing about the Internet is its constantly re-inventing itself and creating new investment opportunities."