Internet advertising firm

DoubleClick

(DCLK)

says the much-awaited recovery will indeed arrive -- in the second half of 2002.

Reporting its second-quarter financial results after the market's close Tuesday, the Internet advertising bellwether for the most part met diminished expectations. But in a conference call with analysts, DoubleClick made it very clear to Wall Street that grim times were still around the corner.

Contrary to a common analysis of Internet advertising's difficulties, DoubleClick said the problem wasn't the departure of dot-coms from the pool of online advertisers. Rather, the company said, the malaise is traceable to sector-by-sector advertising declines -- cutbacks that are affecting ad-based print publications such as

The Wall Street Journal

, not just online publishers. Specifically, DoubleClick said that advertising in the technology and financial services categories was down more than 50%.

Though CEO Kevin Ryan said online automobile advertising is up 10% from last year and travel is up 45%, the company made it clear that things weren't going to get better until earnings and visibility improved for advertisers -- not anytime soon. Spelling it out, Chief Financial Officer Stephen Collins said, "Our best-case scenario is that meaningful growth will return in the second half of 2002."

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Revenue for the quarter ended June 30 amounted to $101.9 million,

within the range of guidance DoubleClick gave in April. The per-share loss was 7 cents, also within company guidance; it beat

Thomson Financial/First Call

expectations by a penny, though that was because analysts haven't been as optimistic as the company has been.

The weakest segment for the company was its ad-sales unit, which accounted for a third of second-quarter revenue. Though DoubleClick had expected revenues between $35 million to $37 million, the number came in at $33.8 million.

Despite its pessimism, DoubleClick reiterated guidance for the second half of the year, somewhat. The per-share loss, excluding certain items, will hit analysts' target of 9 cents in the second half. The company said it still expects revenue in the previously dispensed range of $425 million to $450 million, though Collins added that it appears the company will come in at the low end of that estimate.

DoubleClick fell 74 cents to $12.02 in regular trading; in after-hours trading on

Island

following the conference call, the stock changed hands at $11.65.