Net investment firm loses $1.28bn

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Net investment firm loses $1.28bn

Troubled investments in e-business by Internet investor CMGI have helped deepen the company's financial woes.

CMGI reported a net loss of $1.28bn (£868.6m) for the fourth fiscal quarter which ended on 31 July, including write-downs taken for investments in several businesses, compared with a net loss of $633m for the same period a year ago.

Excluding charges, the company reported an operating loss of $104.5m for the quarter, compared with a loss of $189m one year ago.

Net revenue was listed at $255.5m for the fourth quarter, compared with $370m one year ago. Annual net revenue for fiscal 2001 increased to $1.24bn, up $347.3m from the year before, when annual net revenue was $890.4m.

In comparison, fiscal 2002 net revenue is expected to fall by about 10%, primarily as a result of restructuring and divestitures in fiscal 2001, according to the company.

According to a company spokeswoman, based on its reduced losses before charges CMGI expects to break even in the fourth quarter of 2002.

The charges recorded in the fourth quarter were related to goodwill associated with CMGI's fiscal 2000 acquisitions of AltaVista, Flycast Communications and Tallan, and its acquisition of MediaBridge Infosystems in fiscal 2001, and because of losses in its NaviSite operations.

"We continue to make measurable improvements in our performance, and our most recent quarter saw a number of significant actions," said David Wetherell, CMGI's chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement. "We continue to aggressively restructure the operations of our core holdings and have taken several key steps to improve the prospects of these businesses."

Wetherell said that continuing consolidations and cost-cutting moves will help the company achieve profitability.

Steve Frankel, an analyst at investment bank Adams Harkness & Hill, said CMGI's troubles are in large part due to its reliance on e-businesses for revenue during a very difficult time for e-business.

"Today, CMGI is chiefly uBid and SalesLink," he said. UBid is an online auction site, while SalesLink is a supply chain management and e-commerce consulting business. "Those are fairly mundane businesses, as far as their abilities downstream to make money," Frankel added.

"[CMGI] has to continue to struggle to reinvent themselves," Frankel said. "It's just a long and painful process."

CMGI companies include portal and search engine site AltaVista, interactive marketing firm Engage and Internet professional services vendor Tallan.

In March, CMGI posted a net loss of $2.56bn for the second fiscal quarter which ended 31 January, compared with losses of $187.8m for the same quarter one year ago.

CMGI's second-quarter losses were, in part, a result of non-cash charges related to its past acquisitions of companies such as AdForce and AltaVista.

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