24/7 Barely Beats Street, Raises Guidance

Interactive marketing and technology company 24/7 Real Media slightly exceeded Wall Street prognostications with a net loss of $5.9 million for the fourth quarter, but raised its guidance for the first quarter of 2004.

The company this week reported $13.2 million in total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2003. Financial analysts polled by Thomson First Call had predicted revenues of $13 million. The $13.2 million figure represented a 14.5 percent increase over the same quarter in 2002. Overall, revenue for 2003 rose 15.6 percent to $49.6 million.

As expected, 24/7 achieved EBITDA profitability for the second quarter in a row, meaning it had positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Still, it registered a net loss of $5.9 million, or $0.05 per share, compared to a net loss of $3.2 million, or $0.05 per share, for the same period a year ago.

“We expect revenue between $15.5 million and $16.5 million for the first quarter of 2004,” David Moore, chairman and CEO of 24/7, said in a conference call. Moore predicted full-year 2004 revenue between $79 million and $84 million. The company also expects to generate a full-year pro forma operating profit in 2004.

The uptick in revenue guidance represented the second upward revision. In January, 24/7 had raised its revenue guidance for 2004 to a range of $70 million to $75 million.

Revenue from 24/7 Search, the company’s search marketing business, jumped almost 19 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003 over Q4 in the previous year. This was because of the larger number of visitors delivered to advertisers thanks to expanding strategic relationships with search engine distribution partners. Integrated solutions revenue climbed 17.7 percent to $33.9 million in 2003.

The company had dramatic news in February, as Lycos U.S. inked a 5-year deal with 24/7 to outsource display ad sales, ad serving and analytics for its Internet properties.

In late 2003, 24/7 reshuffled sales operations to bring technology and media under one banner.

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