Ask Jeeves Reduces Net Loss in Second Quarter

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Natural-language search portal provider Ask Jeeves Inc. said last week that it had reduced its net loss in the second quarter to $20.9 million, or 58 cents per share, from $41.9 million, or $1.20 per share, a year ago.


Total revenue for the second quarter was $16.7 million, down from $25.8 million in second quarter 2000.


In the first half of the year, Ask Jeeves implemented cost-cutting measures and reduced its annual operating costs by $65 million, said Steve Sordello, the company's chief financial officer.


"We have implemented tighter spending controls and have reduced costs to adjust to the weak economic environment," he said. He also expects third-quarter revenue to be affected by the weak economy.


"We expect to see a return of revenue growth in the fourth quarter due to the historical traffic strength of the quarter and continued traction of our new ad products," Sordello said. The company is no longer forecasting that it will reach breakeven in the fourth quarter.


Since their introduction in the first quarter, sales of Ask Jeeves' four new premium-priced ad products have grown 40 percent. The four ad units the company introduced include Branded Response, available on its Ask.com reply page; Branded Animation, which features multimedia and is available on the company's home page; interstitials, which are triggered by keywords; and DirectLinx text-based advertising.


Ask Jeeves said its Web Properties business, which is responsible for advertising, sponsorships, syndication and e-commerce sales, posted revenue of $7.6 million in the second quarter, down substantially from $15.9 million a year ago. Its Jeeves Solutions business, responsible for licensing the company's technology and for international sales, reported second-quarter revenue of just more than $9 million, down from $9.8 million a year earlier.


The company said it ended the second quarter with $88.4 million in cash and equivalents.


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