ecorp Beats Estimates in First Year

ecorp, the best-performed and largest Internet company in Australia, has slightly beaten its revenue forecasts and suffered a marginally better than expected loss.

ecorp is the publicly-floated spinoff of media congolmerate Publishing &
Broadcasting Ltd. ecorp’s core properties include 50 percent of ninemsn, the joint venture with Microsoft, as well as ticket agency Ticketek and online trading facility Sharetrader. The company recent purchased 25 percent of financial services company Wizard.

Revenues for ecorp were AUS$6 million (US$3.8 million), as opposed to AUS$5 million (US$3.15 million) forecast in the prospectus for the company’s float in June this year.

The forecast AUS$19 million (US$12 million) loss translated into a
shortfall of AUS$17.6 million (US$11.1 million), along with an expected
abnormal loss as development costs of $6.5 million (US$4.1 million) were
written off.

However, due to the fact that the forecast did not take into account
AUS$10.1 million (US$6.4 million) in additional losses from investment in the ninemsn and eBay Australia & NZ sites, the actual loss for all parts of ecorp totalled AUS$34.3 million (US$21.6 million).

ecorp’s share price was unchanged at AUS$2.05 (US$1.29) at the close of
trading. The revenue for ninemsn, a 50-50 joint venture between ecorp and Microsoft, and eBay Australia & New Zealand, a similar venture with US-based online auction house eBay, totalled AUS$4.28 million (US$2.7 million).

This was a marginal improvement over the forecast AUS$4.03 million (US$2.54 million) figure. ecorp absorbed a loss of AUS$9.8 million (US$6.2 million) for ninemsn in the year to June 30, despite the portal site being one of the most popular in Australia with a reach of 56.3 per cent of the Australian Internet user population, and 1.5 million unique users, according to local research firm www.consult.

The above-expectation result for ecorp was in stark contrast to its parent
company and 73 per cent shareholder, Publishing & Broadcasting Limited,
which reported yearly profit of AUS$174 million, dropping from AUS$476
million a year ago. PBL dropped only a cent to AUS$9.79 on the day, as the
company predicted much better results next year.

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