IAR Bits and Bytes

Digitas Turns a Profit

Boosted by a 40 percent drop in operating expenses, Boston-based i-shop Digitas Inc. has swung its operations into the black, reporting a first quarter net profit of $700,000, or $0.01 per share.

After a round of layoffs which included the closure of its Hong Kong office, Digitas said the drop in expenses helped offset reduced revenue in the quarter, pushing the drive towards cash flow profitability.

The interactive shop said the $700,000 net profit was a vast improvement over the results from the same year-ago quarter, which it recorded a net loss of $7 million ($0.12 per share).

Revenues in the quarter dipped to $69 million, down from last year’s $106.9 million. But, overall expenses also fell to $68 million, down from $114.2 million.

Digital said it had a cash balance of $53 million at the end of the quarter.

“While historically we have been profitable on a cash basis, this past quarter marks the first time since we went public in March 2000 that Digitas has been profitable on a GAAP basis,” Chief Financial Officer Jeff Cote said in a statement.

Digitas, which has been hurt by the contraction in the interactive services sector and the overall slowdown in online spending, said it expects to show continued improvement. “We have strong financial disciplines in place, and we are poised for higher levels of revenue growth when the economy recovers. Our top clients continue to invest and spend with us, and we’ve recently added Millennium Pharmaceuticals and USA Funds as important new clients,” according to Chief Executive David Kenny.

Digitas expects revenues in the second quarter to come in between $49 million and $53 million and, for the full year, between $200 million $220 million.

Verizon Beefs Up SuperPages.com en Espanol

Verizon’s yellow pages unit is enhancing its SuperPages.com en Espanol site in a bid to attract U.S. Hispanic/Latino users.

Dallas-based Verizon Information Services added expanded search features and more Spanish-language and Hispanic/Latino culturally-focused content on the site, which launched in the fall of 2001.

The changes include a new SuperSecciones area — which serves as a portal to business, family, educational, and finance information and advertisers. In addition, SuperPages.com en Espanol expanded its Spanish-language search categories and capabilities to make it easier for non-English-speakers to find advertisers in the online guide.

Studies have indicated that U.S.-based Hispanics and Latinos are increasing the amount of time they spend on the Internet, and that the Spanish speakers within the demographic actively seek out non-English content.

“Hispanic consumers are using SuperPages.com en Espanol to find goods and services, and advertisers are using it to reach their target customers,” said Patrick Marshall, group vice president of marketing for Verizon Information Services. “It’s clear that the Internet is an increasingly important tool in reaching U.S. Hispanics.”

“We know that the U.S. Hispanic community is a strong and vital force in the U.S. economy,” he said. “To both meet and exceed its needs, Verizon will continue to add enhancements and features to both the online and print directories.”

Yahoo Tweaks Classified Auto Ad Site

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo unveiled changes to its automotive classified ads site, in an aim to boost ad revenues.

For one thing, the Web portal began offering an expanded deal for advertisers, allowing them to buy a “featured ad” which includes two free 21-day renewals, a personal URL and email links, a thumbnail photo and featured placement within search.

The package goes for $24.95. A basic ad, which includes a classified listing with a photo, goes for $14.95.

Yahoo also rolled out links to vehicle research, free quotes on new cars from local dealers, and used vehicle buying and selling tools, through partnerships with Kelley Blue Book, Consumer Union and Autobytel.

“The enhancements to the Yahoo Autos’ site underscore the Company’s commitment to provide the Internet’s premiere destination for buying and selling new and used vehicles,” said Elizabeth Blair, senior vice president of Yahoo’s Listings business unit. “Yahoo continues to build powerful opportunities for auto manufacturers, dealers and individuals interested in selling and marketing cars online.”

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