Viant Earnings Below Expectations

Viant Corp. reported worse-than-expected earnings today, another disappointment in what has been a brutal stretch for the Boston online consultancy.

Viant, which warned in December that its fourth-quarter losses would equal about 7 cents per share, announced losses doubleing that figure.

During the three months ending in December the company lost $7.1 million, or 14 cents a share, on revenue of $25 million — a figure also short of the $27-28 million Viant said in December it should earn during the quarter.

Those losses don’t include $6 million in restructuring charges from the company’s December layoff of 125 workers. Including those charges, Viant lost $13.2 million, or 26 cents a share.

Revenue was down 24 percent from the third quarter, when Viant lost $1.1 million, or 2 cents a share, on revenue of $33.1 million. In the 1999 fourth quarter it made a profit of $3.7 million, or 7 cents a share, on revenue of $23.7 million.

Gross margin also declined from the third quarter, from 50 percent to 45 percent.

CEO Bob Gett described it as “another difficult quarter,” saying uncertain economic forecasts have delayed the Web investments of potential customers.

“It is our belief that IT budgets should rise in 2001, but companies still seem to be spending very cautiously,” Gett said. “It is hard to have a sense for how spending will be for the rest of the year and we could have another couple of challenging quarters ahead of us.”

For the year 2000, Viant made $3.6 million on revenue of $127.2 million, more than double revenue of $61.3 million in 1999, when it made $1.4 million. Including the restructuring charges, Viant lost $2.5 million, or 5 cents a share.

In midday trading Wednesday VIAN, which has traded below $5 per share since mid-November, was down 0.1562, or 4 percent, at 3.9688.

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