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Aptimus Cuts Q4 Revenues Expectations

Online promotional marketer Aptimus said its fourth quarter revenues will be less than planned, due to unexpected shortcomings in its ability to collect funds from failing clients.

"After reviewing the composition of its revenues and reassessing the viability of certain of its clients served during the period, and the collectability of the corresponding revenues, Aptimus Inc. ... has determined not to recognize a significant portion of its revenues for 4Q00," the firm said in a statement.

Like most companies in the online marketing industry, Seattle-based Aptimus has been hard hit by the across-the-board downturn in Web ad spending, thanks to the shakeout in dot-com advertisers.

The firm, which delivers targeted e-commerce offers in e-mail and through Web publishers, said it now expects fourth quarter's revenues to come in between $2.2 million and $3.5 million.

This also will lead to a corresponding increase in expecting operating losses for the quarter to enlarge to $0.31 to $0.41 per share.

Wall Street analysts had been expecting the firm to post an operating loss of about $0.20 per share for the quarter, according to First Call/Thompson Financial estimates.

The news means that Aptimus' fourth-quarter performance will come in at a fraction of its third quarter, when the firm posted revenues of $5.6 million and an operating loss of $3.4 million, or $0.22 per share. At the time, it beat its own guidance and analyst consensus, though it did lower revenue estimates from earlier predictions of more than $6 million.

Now, it seems the firm has yet another quarter of revenue disappointments for investors.

The company had earlier said it expects to hit profitability in the second half of 2001. It did not give any future guidance following Friday's announcement, nor any indication of how the news might affect its full-year earnings.

Shares of APTM were trading down 30 percent at $0.59 at press time, well off its 52-week high of $36.4.