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Internet software provider



reported a quarterly loss that was narrower than analysts' expected, and the company, even though it forecast a loss, raised its near-term guidance.

S1 lost $18 million, or 30 cents a share, excluding items, in the fourth quarter, while analysts were anticipating a loss of 39 cents. When calculated according to generally accepted accounting principles, the company lost 92 cents.

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"We reported record results in a number of key metrics -- revenue, EBITDA, operating margin, cash flow from operations and days sales outstanding," S1's chief executive, Jaime Ellertson, said in a statement.

Revenue rose 31% in the quarter to $78.6 million from $60.1 million a year ago.

The company, which sells its software to banks and financial services firms, projected a loss of 5 cents to 8 cents a share in the first quarter, narrower than the consensus expectation of a 12-cent loss. S1 also said it would lose between 7 cents and 15 cents a share in 2002, while analysts are looking for a loss of 25 cents. In 2003, S1 expects to earn between 11 cents and 16 cents a share. First Call carries a 2003 estimate of 31 cents, but that's based on only one analyst.

S1 said EBITDA -- which it defines as revenue minus direct costs, selling and marketing expenses, product development costs and general and administrative expenses -- was $10.9 million, or 18 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, a $40 million improvement over the year-ago period.

Separately, the company earlier Tuesday named Matthew Hale as its chief financial officer.

S1 closed the regular session up 2.6% to $16.08. The stock is down 0.6% for the year.