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CMGI Fourth Quarter Beats Wall Street Estimates

CMGI Inc. , a bellweather Internet stock that has been bruised since April, reported fourth-quarter results that beat Wall Street estimates. Chairman and CEO David Wetherell also said five of the company's six business segments should be profitable by next year.

The Andover, Mass., holding company posted a net loss of $633.7 million, or $2.17 per share, compared to a net loss of $428 million, or $1.53 per share, in the previous quarter. Analysts had expected CMGI to lose $2.45 per share. Revenue was $377.2 million, a jump of 62 percent from the third quarter, led by strong results from the company's Internet professional services company, CMGI Solutions, which gained 218 percent from the third-quarter.

Two weeks ago, CMGI unveiled a streamlined operating structure, aligning its 17 companies and its venture capital arm into six distinct business lines. They are: search and portals; infrastructure and enabling technologies; Internet professional services; e-business fulfillment; interactive marketing; and venture activities -- areas the company sees the greatest potential for growth and profitability.

"Looking forward to fiscal 2001, we will remain focused on strong growth, the clear achievement of leadership within our operating segments, and an accelerated path to profitability," Wetherell said. "In fact, we expect four out of five operating segments to begin to realize positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, and in-process research and development charges, on a monthly run-rate basis by the end of the current fiscal year."

CMGI also offered additional details about its restructuring. For example it eventually wants to operate only one or two companies in each business segment. MyWay.com, an Andover provider of personalized Web portals, and iCAST, a Woburn multimedia entertainment site, are among those CMGI is shopping.

CMGI also has a majority stake in search engine AltaVista (which is in the IPO pipeline), content-delivery site Activate, Web-hosting site NaviSite and Tribal Voice, a site hosting online communities. It also owns interactive marketing firms AdForce, Engage (which yesterday announced it would lay off 175 workers> and yesmail.com.

It also owns minority stakes in 53 other companies, including Waltham portal Lycos and Ventro , a business-to-business firm that offers e-commerce software.

While building a string of successes when Internet companies were hot, CMGI also had some failures, including ailing online vitamin seller MotherNature.com , and retailer Furniture.com. Both are based in Massachsuetts.

CMGI stock, which split 2-for-1 earlier this year, had traded at a 52-week high of around 163, but recently has traded in the 45 range. Shares CMGI were unchanged at 36.4375 on Thursday.

Colin Haley is a writer with Boston Internetnews.com

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