MyPoints.com Misses Street

Online incentive marketer MyPoints.com, which made analysts’ reduced expectations last quarter, wasn’t able to repeat the trick, posting a loss in line with its previously lowered guidance, but wider than Wall Street’s forecasts.

Before one-time charges, the San Francisco-based loyalty marketer said its fourth quarter earnings were $16.3 million, or $0.40 per share, on revenues of $14.5 million.

While revenues remained unchanged from third quarter, the firm posted a $0.04 greater per-share loss.

The Street, according to Thomson Financial/First Call estimates, was expecting the firm to post a loss of $0.36 per share for the quarter. Last year, the company also posted a fourth-quarter loss of $0.40 per share, which was worth only about $10 million at the time, due to changes in the stock’s float.

The company — which warned about fourth-quarter earnings in January — had also reduced guidance in October for its third quarter 2000.

After one-time charges, the company posted a fourth-quarter 2000 loss of $33 million, or $0.82 per share, compared to a net loss of $11.8 million, or $0.47 per share, in the fourth quarter of 1999.

While revenue for the full year increased 163 percent to $63.5 million, the company posted a before-charges loss of $43.2 million, or $1.31 per share. Financial analyst consensus anticipated the firm’s full-year losses coming in lower, at $1.26 per share.

After charges, the company saw a $75.1 million loss, or $2.27 per share, for the year. Despite having missed analyst expectations, the performance is still better than in 1999, when the firm posted a loss of $3.07 per share before charges, and $3.53 net.

However, those after-charges figures for 2000 could change; MyPoints.com executives said that they’re considering writing down additional losses due to goodwill and other intangibles, “in light of the current economic outlook and conditions in capital markets.” The potential losses are principally just accounting losses, and shouldn’t affect cash flow, the company said.

The company also said it has fully integrated CyberGold, which it acquired early last year, and now plans to offer the unit as a separate performance-based direct marketing product line. By establishing CyberGold as an additional product line, the company said it would be able to provide new and existing customers with an extended marketing options.

That, coupled with cost-reduction efforts (such as the elimination of 120 jobs in October, after the earnings warning), should put the firm on more stable financial ground going forward, executives said.

“We made solid progress in … cost-control,” said John Steuart, senior vice president and chief financial officer. “In addition to the repositioning of CyberGold, we enhanced our revenue forecasting systems and expense management programs.”

Steuart also said the firm continues to “rationalize our cost structure,” which he anticipates will cut about 15 percent from operating expenses during the first quarter of 2001, and an additional 10 percent in the second quarter 2001.

According to spokespeople at the firm, the company had about $105 million in cash and marketable securities as of the end of 2000 — enough, it says, to reach profitability, though it did not disclose when that might happen.

The firm is also continuing to look to shore up its management structure. MyPoints.com president Layton Han is effectively acting as chief executive officer and chief operating officer, following those two executives’ departure in recent months. The company did not give any indication of when it anticipates filling the posts.

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