This week's man-bites-dog story comes from the

DoubleClick

(DCLK)

earnings report Thursday. In it, a company dependent on the seemingly hopeless Internet advertising business announces quarterly results that provoke unfettered joy among bullish investors.

A day after

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

glumly forecast a worse-than-expected 2001, DoubleClick wowed investors with a bullish outlook on a conference call after the release of its fourth-quarter financial results.

Not long after DoubleClick got off the phone with Wall Street Thursday, its stock jumped $1.63, or more than 14%, in after-hours trading to $12.88. In regular trading the stock fell from $12.44 to close at $11.25.

Why such happy feelings? Well, it didn't hurt that

the company beat estimates, breaking even instead of posting a 2-cent loss and surpassing the consensus revenue figure published by

First Call/Thomson Financial

.

Reversal of Fortune?
DoubleClick's long slide

But there were some other things going on in the call that didn't hurt. In these days, when Internet companies that actually get cash infusions make for another man-bites-dog story, the company said it wouldn't burn any cash by the end of 2001 -- except for what it will spend on mergers and acquisitions.

Other highlights: The company again reminded investors that it's not as dependent on the ad sales market as people think it is. In fact, only 20% of the company's gross profit comes from media, with the rest coming from its technology business or its marketing database arm.

DoubleClick also hinted that it would someday expand beyond the marketing services business and use its sales force to sell new products yet undisclosed. And the company said it was glad it didn't go through with its plans to acquire email firm

NetCreations

(NTCR)

, adding that it would take $5 million of the $8 million-plus breakup fee it received to jumpstart its own email media operations. The breakup fee, in fact, is bigger than the cost of NetCreations' entire payroll for 2001, said DoubleClick CFO Stephen Collins -- effectively giving DoubleClick "potentially 60 people for a year for free."

Whatever. The company expects the ad business to pick up in the second half of 2001, and that's not wishful thinking, says Collins.