Ask Jeeves Net Loss More Than Doubles in 2001; Buys Out UK Partners

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Ask Jeeves Inc. said yesterday that its net loss for 2001 more than doubled to $425.2 million, or $11.48 per share, from $189.6, or $5.51 per share a year earlier. For the fourth quarter, its net income rose to $1.3 million, or 3 cents per share, from a loss of $61.9 million, or $1.74 per share in the fourth quarter of 2000.


The company said that its net revenue for 2001 fell to $66.5 million, from $95.7 million a year earlier. For the fourth quarter, Ask Jeeves' net revenue fell to $15.5 million, from slightly more than $23 million in 2000.


Ask Jeeves noted that full-year revenue from its Web Properties division fell to $32.1 million from $58.4 million a year earlier. In the fourth quarter Web Properties revenue declined to $8.5 million, from $12.4 million. Web Properties revenue is generated from advertising, sponsorships and e-commerce sales at the company's Ask.com, DirectHit.com and AJKids.com Web sites, as well as from syndications.


Its Jeeves Solutions division, which includes revenue generated from companies that license Ask Jeeves' technology and its international divisions, posted full-year revenue of $34.4 million, down from $37.3 million in 2000. For the fourth quarter, Jeeves Solutions posted net revenue of $6.9 million, down from $10.6 million a year earlier. The company attributed the division's decline in revenue to its discontinuation of license revenue in October 2001 associated with Ask Jeeves en Espanole


Ask Jeeves also said it will acquire full ownership of Ask Jeeves UK from its former partners. Under terms of the deal, Ask Jeeves will pay its former partners Carlton Communications Plc and Granada Media Group Ltd. $2.5 million in cash and stock. In return, they will give Ask Jeeves a credit for advertising on Carlton's and Granada's media networks. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter.


Ask Jeeves also said it consolidated support for its international divisions, including Ask Jeeves en Espanol, Ask Jeeves UK and Ask Jeeves Japan, into its core business divisions. As a result, George Lichter, president of Ask Jeeves International, left the company at the end of January.


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