The publisher of Web sites devoted to technology reported $70.2 million in revenue for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, well off the December 2000 figure of $120 million, but just shy of the $71.5 million consensus forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call.
The company reported an "adjusted loss" of $13.4 million, or 10 cents a share, 2 cents better than the First Call forecast of a loss of 12 cents a share. In the December 2000 quarter, CNet reported income of $13.2 million on that basis, or 9 cents a share.
The adjusted loss excludes "amortization and impairment of goodwill and intangible assets, business integration expenses, realized gains (losses) and impairment of investments, extraordinary interest expense and income taxes," according to CNet.
Including all those items, CNet reported a fourth-quarter loss of $81.2 million, or 59 cents a share, compared with a fourth-quarter 2000 loss of $392.1 million, or $3.12 per share.
In regular trading, the company's shares fell 52 cents, or 6.4%, to close at $7.55. The stock fell 70 cents more in after-hours trading.
CNet President Dan Rosensweig says the company expects the overall technology advertising to remain "stable yet challenged" for the first half of the year. Technology advertisers are going to wait until they see an improvement in capital expenditures, he says, before they begin to "aggressively uptick" their marketing. Online-technology advertising should perform "significantly better" than technology advertising in print publications, he says.
With first-quarter ad spending typically 10% to 15% below fourth-quarter levels, the second half of 2002 should be better than the first, says Rosensweig -- not just because of seasonality, but because advertisers will be making up for a year's worth of limited advertising, he says.
But that bounceback may not meet analysts' current expectations. For 2002, the company is guiding for revenue of $265 million to $285 million, below the $299 million 11-analyst consensus. CNet is expecting a per-share loss in the range of 19 cents to 39 cents, compared with analysts' current expectations of a 33-cent loss.
For the first quarter of 2002, CNet is forecasting a loss of 13 cents to 18 cents a share, worse than the First Call consensus of a 12-cent loss per share. Revenue in the first quarter, according to CNet's guidance, will be $55 million to $60 million, below the three-analyst estimate of $66.8 million.