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Akamai's Q4 Loss Narrows

Akamai Technologies trimmed fourth-quarter losses on strong sales of its Internet content delivery service and anticipates a strong 2002 based on recurring contracts.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, the Cambridge, Mass., firm had a net loss of $64.8 million, or 60 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $303 million, or $3.16 a share, in the same period last year.

Discounting amortization and other charges, Akamai's net loss totaled $37.8 million, or 35 cents per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call expected a loss of 36 cents to 41 cents a share, with a consensus loss estimate of 39 cents a share.

Fourth-quarter revenue was $37.1 million, down $100,000 from the fourth quarter of 2000, but better than the $34 million to $36 million forecast by the company.

"Our positive fourth quarter results capped a year marked by strong performance that allowed us to maintain our healthy balance sheet," said George Conrades, Akamai chairman and CEO

Akamai ended the year with $210 million in cash and securities, Conrades said. That puts it in a strong position, given the company's new cash-conscious approach.

Operating and capital expenses in the fourth-quarter totaled just $7.2 million, down 80 percent over the same period last year. Much of that is attributable to job cuts. In October, Akamai laid off about 200 workers, or a quarter of its workforce.

Conrades also said the customer list for Akamai's EdgeSuite service grew to 152 from 100 in the quarter. New users, which are on recurring contracts, include All Nippon Airways (announced earlier this week), Amtrak, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Houghton Mifflin and Whirlpool, among others.

Markedly absent are Internet and technology startups from the list. Akamai has gone to great lengths to pursue large stable customers to avoid having to write off business from failed startups.

The quarterly results were announced after markets closed. Earlier, the issue lost 0.06 to $4.06 in heavy trading. In the last 52 weeks, the issue has ranged from 2.52 to 37.475.