Engage Warns About Quarterly Costs

In a brief call with analysts Wednesday, online ad network Engage gave warning that it would post a wider-than-expected loss for the current quarter.

Engage said it would see a cash operating loss of “no greater than $55 million,” or $0.28 per share, attributable to costs associated with the company’s restructuring, which it announced earlier this month. Analysts had previously predicted a loss of $0.19 per share.

Chief financial officer Robert Bartlett also took Engage’s profitability estimates “off the table” but repeated that the company expects its current cash and will be “sufficient” to get it to profitability. At the end of last quarter, the company had about $80 million in liquid assets.

Industry watchers looking for guidance on Engage’s fiscal quarterly and yearly outlook were told by Bartlett that the company wouldn’t be giving an estimate of how later quarters would shape up — nor would Engage explain how it planned to stretch its remaining money to last until profitability.

Bartlett and chief executive Tony Nuzzo apologized for the abbreviated comments but said speculation about Engage’s future performance would have to wait until March. At that time, Nuzzo said, the company would have a better idea of how the company will be affected by the rate, costs and impact of its restructuring. In March, the company also reports its second-quarter results (Engage operates on an October-September fiscal year).

In the meantime, Bartlett urged analysts to focus on Engage’s recent accomplishments, most importantly its announced cuts of half its 1100-person staff, but also its recent enterprise software deals with Fuji Film and Airtours, and the spin-off of a carrier-level wireless technology firm, Avesair.

“I think you should evaluate the progress we’ve made in 39 business days,” he said to analysts during the call. “Make an assessment about what might be continuing, make an assessment about some exciting client announcements we’ve made … and how we’re rightsizing the business and moving forward from there … I’m asking for indulgence here and ask you to look at the track record for the past 39 days.”

Shares of Engage were trading down 20 percent in after-hours trading, to $2.31 on the REDIbook ECN.

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