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Lastminute rises as analysts welcome results

Shares in online travel retailer Lastminute.com rose 9% after the company’s full year results exceeded analyst expectations.

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LONDON (Brand Republic) - Shares in online travel retailer Lastminute.com rose 9% after the company’s full year results exceeded analyst expectations.

The rise came against a rise in pre-tax losses in the year to September 30 to £35.7m from £4.5m last time. However, gross profit also rose to £3.34m, up from £177,000 in 1999. Total sales for the site were £34.19m, up from £2,647m in 1999.

Chairman Allan Leighton said that Lastminute still had “a lot to do”, but the financial results and the recent acquisition of French rival Degriftour meant that the company would become profitable sooner than expected.

He said the £8m investment in the second version of its website -– rolled out four months late in November -– should pay off over the coming year.

Cash burn in the last quarter of 2000 was £13m and the company has £104m in cash in the bank. The combination of cash holdings and the financial results mean that the company is on track to break even in early 2003, analysts said.

Lastminute also announced it is launching an offline Christmas catalogue, offering gifts that can be ordered over the telephone using voice recognition technology.

Lastminute share closed at 76p last night and opened at 78p this morning, up from 73p at close on Friday. The price is still trading well below its flotation price of 380p.

www.lastminute.com



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