Autobytel Hits the Brakes


Struggling online auto sales and info operation Autobytel Inc. hit the
brakes again, this time laying off 40 people or about 15 percent of its
employees. The move follows last month’s report of a wider loss for the first
quarter.


The Irvine, Calif.-based company said the restructuring
would result in a charge of about $500,000, and “is a continuation of the
efforts begun last year to reduce costs and improve operating efficiency
subsequent to (the) acquisition of Autoweb.”


Autobytel acquired its one-time rival, Santa Clara, Calif.-based auto sales site
Autoweb.com Inc., in April 2001 in a tax-free merger deal valued at about $15
million in stock


Last month Autobytel posted a first-quarter net loss
of $18.5 million, or 59 cents a share, after a $19.2 million charge for its
European operations. It posted a net loss of $4.1 million, or 20 cents a
share, a year ago. Revenue for the first quarter rose to $20.7 million from
$16.7 million.


The latest move will save the company about $4 million on an annualized
basis, Autobytel said.


“This restructuring is a result of simplification, streamlining, and
considerable focus on business operations,” said Jeffrey Schwartz, president
and CEO of Autobytel. “We reduced operating costs significantly following the
acquisition of Autoweb and have continued to focus on driving even greater
efficiencies throughout the business. These efforts represent a continuation
of that process. We are encouraged by the progress we are making and remain
quite confident in our business plan.”


Earlier this month Autobytel signed a marketing/fulfillment deal with automotive classified ad
marketplace AutoTrader.com.


Autobytel also owns and operates Carsmart.com and Autosite.com, as well as
AIC (Automotive Information Center), a provider of automotive marketing data
and technology.

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