priceline.com Posts Small Profit Before Items

priceline.com ( PCLN) posted fourth-quarter earnings of a penny a share, excluding several items, and the name-your-own-price Internet site said it was comfortable with Wall Street's estimates for 2002.

Analysts polled by First Call were expecting the company to break even, excluding items. When the results were calculated according to generally accepted accounting principles, the company lost $1.3 million, or 1 cent a share, compared with a loss of $105.1 million, or 62 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

Revenue totaled $235.3 million, up from $228.2 million in the year-ago fourth quarter.

"Looking forward, priceline.com is targeting first-quarter 2002 revenue of between $260 million and $290 million, consistent with our expectation that industry conditions, and specifically low retail airline pricing, will continue to put pressure on our bind rate," priceline.com said in a press release. "We are managing the first quarter to a goal of between zero to two cents pro forma earnings per share, including the effects of a significant increase in online and offline marketing spending and one cent of loss generated by consolidating our European operations."

Analysts expect the company to earn 2 cents in the first quarter. For 2002, analysts are looking for earnings of 12 cents a share, excluding items.

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