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Phorm reports $15m pre-tax loss

LONDON - Phorm, the targeted online advertising firm that has faced diminishing support in the UK, as ISPs such as Carphone Warehouse and BT pulled back from proposed trials, has posted a pre-tax loss of $15m (£9.3m) for the first half of the year.

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The financial result is an improvement on the same period a year earlier, when it reported a pre-tax loss of $24.7m in the six-month period to the end of June 30. The performance was boosted by cost cuts, including a 48% reduction in administration costs.

Phorm said it remained confident about its future, on the back of progress to commercially deploy its technology "in a major market", with expected generation of meaningful revenues.

Sales and administrative expenses fell 48% to $11.2m, while the company's cash balance was $34.4m with no borrowings.

Phorm, which enables targeted advertising based on an internet user's browsing history, has repeatedly come under fire from privacy groups who have singled it out because of the extent to which they say it has overstepped boundaries, including in an early trial with BT that users were not notified of.

In July, the company said BT Group had no immediate plans to use Phorm's service, while telecoms services retailer Carphone Warehouse ended their commercial agreement with it.

It added: "We remain in ongoing discussions with a number of UK ISPs and remain optimistic about our longer term potential in this market."

As a result of the earlier setbacks, however, Phorm has scaled back its plans to roll-out an ISP-based targeting service in the UK and is now concentrating its efforts elsewhere.

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