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Search Engine's Earnings Excite Investors

Excite Inc. gave investors something to cheer about Thursday after releasing better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and a three-fold increase in revenues.

The company reported a loss of $6.8 million, or 14 cents a diluted share, up from a loss of $8.2 million, or 27 cents a diluted share, a year ago. Revenues skyrocketed to $44 million from just under $16 million a year ago.

Excluding one-time acquisition costs and charges associated with its deal with Netscape Communications Corp. for placement on Netcenter, Excite earned $1.3 million, or 2 cents a diluted share. That's substantially better than forecasts which had projected a 2-cent loss.

Excite said it will pay the $56.8 million that will go to Netscape in the Netcenter deal over two years, which will result in a charge of $7.6 million, or 15 cents a share, during each quarter of the two-year deal which ends April 30, 2000.

For the first time, the company also reported a break-even cash flow. Excite also booked $64 million in new business over the quarter. The company said 993 advertisers had booked space on Excite and its search engine WebCrawler, which it also owns.

Traffic across the company's network increased to 50 million a day by the end of the quarter, up 15 percent from the second quarter.

"We are pleased with the strong revenue and bookings growth this quarter and especially proud of achieving profitability on a pro forma basis. Achieving break-even cash flow from operations for the first time was an even more important financial milestone," said Excite Chief Executive Officer George Bell.