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Ariba Crosses the Finish Line

Amid a flurry of dot-coms losses, Ariba Wednesday proudly announced that it has broken even.

The firm scored record revenues of $134.9 million in the fourth quarter of its fiscal year, up 67 percent from the first quarter and 687 percent from the same period last year. Net loss for the quarter excluding non-operating charges was $1.1 million.

For the year, total revenues notched up to $279 million, dwarfing its previous year's total of $45.4 million. Net losses for the year topped out at $29.5 million, or 15 cents per share.

Keith Krach, Ariba's chairman and chief executive officer, attributed his firm's success to the 500 percent boost in customer base and deployed more B2B customers than any competitor, including powerful rival Commerce One.

But, these days, it's apparent that profits alone aren't enough to keep fickle investors satisfied as Doubleclick found out last week. The online advertising pioneer reported its first quarter of profitability but saw its stock plummet 30 percent due to concerns about growth.

Ariba, which facilitates online commerce with its various software tools, commands an impressive customer portfolio, including 114 new clients added to the mix in the quarter. Highlights include securing contracts from Pfizer, Bear Stearns and Co. and Target Corp.

The firm also inked partnerships with e-marketplaces e2Open, Transora and Procuron, carried largely on the strong performance and reputation of its B2B Commerce Platform®.

"We know that customers want a smooth, simple and fast implementation, and Ariba, with the assistance of our partners, provides this," Krach said. "When marketplaces and exchanges are quickly deployed everyone in the ecosystem benefits including market makers, buyers and suppliers."

Rounding out a busy fourth quarter, Ariba linked arms with Microsoft and IBM to form the Universal Description Discovery and Integration (UDDI) initiative, which hooks users up with buyers and suppliers on the network. Thirty-six other e-commerce players also joined UDDI to develop B2B standards for the development of e-commerce.

But all that glitters is not always gold. Joe Buskin, a Street.com analyst, said Tuesday that smaller, faster e-commerce firms are sneaking up behind them and pilfering customers. Buskin said a couple of weeks ago, the Global Healthcare Exchange dropped IBM Corp., i2 Technologies and Ariba in favor of smaller CenterMed for its supplies marketplace.

The analyst said a rash of similar coups followed in the entire marketplace sector, suggesting that Ariba and Commerce One may not be able to keep up with their customers personalization and integration needs. The result, Buskin says, may be that the B2B giants will reach their customer zenith in the next year.