Venture Firm Bails Out of Priceline

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s venture capital company, Vulcan Ventures
Inc., has bailed out of Priceline.com, selling a 6.2 percent stake in the
troubled name-your-own-price company whose earnings were due out after the
bell today.

Analysts on average were forecasting a loss of 7 cents a share, compared with
a loss of 6 cents in the same period a year earlier. Priceline advised investors in November
that fourth-quarter revenue would be worse than that of the third quarter,
which in turn had declined 3 percent from the 2000 second quarter to $341
million. The company has never made any money.

According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Vulcan
Ventures had owned about 9.1 million common shares of Priceline
. The recent filing didn’t say when the final sales were made.

Priceline stock closed yesterday at $2.56 and was up about 15 cents in
late-morning trading today. The stock’s 52-week high is more than $104 per
share.

Seattle-based Vulcan has been concerned about technology stocks since the
middle of 1999 because of “overvaluation” in the markets, Bloomberg News
quoted spokesperson Susan Pierson Brown as saying. She added that the
Priceline.com sale was part of that view.

“We continue to be concerned about the state of the market, and as such we
expect to be more frequently a seller than a buyer in the near term,” she was
quoted as saying.

Priceline ran into trouble last fall when it missed earnings estimates and
its advertising was called into question. Last December the company cut its
workforce and announced a
back-to-basics strategy.

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