DoubleClick Promises 2002 Profit

'We will do what it takes,' the CEO says.
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DoubleClick

(DCLK)

Thursday evening met diminished expectations for the third quarter.

The Internet advertising company, which scaled back financial goals following last month's terrorist attacks, also reduced revenue estimates for the fourth quarter. But DoubleClick said it would beat bottom-line estimates and vowed that, through cost-cutting, it would return to the black next year.

DoubleClick reported revenue of $92.7 million for the third quarter, below July's guidance of $96 million to $102 million, but above the revised range of $87 million to $90 million. The quarter's revenue is down 31% from the year-ago figure of $135.2 million, when the company's coffers were lined with ad money from free-spending dot-coms.

Nine days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the company said that the events of Sept. 11 had led to softness in both online advertising and software sales, worsening the outlook for its media business and, to a lesser extent, its technology business.

The company lost 9 cents a share, excluding certain noncash and one-time items, which put it at the optimistic end of the forecast range. That compares to a 8-cent loss in the second quarter of 2001, and a 3-cent profit one year ago.

Including a $63.3 million goodwill impairment charge, DoubleClick reported a net loss of $103.5 million, or 77 cents per share, compared to a loss of $10.7 million, or 9 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2000.

On Tuesday, before the market closed, DoubleClick rose 59 cents to close at $7.49, up more than 8%. The company's stock evidently got a boost from its premarket announcement that it had renegotiated its merger agreement with email marketing firm

Message Media

(MESG)

, issuing roughly one-third the number of shares it said in June it would spend for the company.

Given DoubleClick's fourth-quarter revenue forecast, the company expects to report full-year revenue of about $400 million, below the $425 million it was forecasting in July, but not far below where more pessimistic analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call are predicting.

But DoubleClick says it expects a fourth-quarter loss of 3 to 5 cents per share, better than the consensus loss estimate of 8 cents per share.

On a conference call with analysts, CEO Kevin Ryan was bullish on the company's email and direct marketing business, saying that direct marketing is a good hedge in a down market because marketers are more interested in direct results from their spending rather than more brand-oriented advertising.

Ryan said that he didn't think the advertising market had yet hit bottom, though he said he thought DoubleClick would benefit from both cost-cutting and industry consolidation. "We will do what it takes to be profitable for the year 2002," Ryan said.