Ask Jeeves Quarterly Loss Narrows



Ask Jeeves Inc. plans to lay off 75 employees, or about 15% of its work force, in another move to reduce expenses.

The Internet search service announced the layoffs as part of its first-quarter financial report. Ask Jeeves (ASKJ) said its net loss for the period narrowed to $39 million, or $1.09 a share. In the year-earlier quarter, the company had a net loss of $47.2 million, or $1.48 a share.

Excluding stock-based compensation, amortization of goodwill associated with acquisitions and one-time items, the company’s loss from operations also narrowed, to $14.4 million, or 40 cents a share, compared with $18.8 million, or 59 cents a share a year earlier. The analysts’ consensus estimate, according to Thomson Financial/First Call, was a loss of 53 cents a share.

Revenue for the first quarter was $19.1 million, a 7.3% increase from $17.8 million a year earlier.

The latest job cuts follow an earlier reduction of 180 staff members, or 25% of Ask Jeeves’s work force, which the company implemented in December.

The company said it expects to take a charge of about $2 million in the current quarter related to the new layoffs. Ask Jeeves said it expects to save a total of $50 million this year compared with last year.

Management Changes

Ask Jeeves also announced a number of changes related to its management team. A. George “Skip” Battle and Steven Sordello have been named chief executive officer and chief financial officer, respectively. Previously, both men held these jobs as acting positions.

Ask Jeeves also said that Steve Berkowitz, former president and chief operating officer of IDG Books, will join the company as president of its Web Properties unit, succeeding Adam Klein, who resigned. Web Properties includes advertising, sponsorship and e-commerce sales on Ask.com, DirectHit.com and AJKids.com, as well as from sales of Ask Jeeves syndication services.

IDG Books Worldwide, now known as Hungry Minds Inc. (HMIN), publishes the For Dummies, CliffsNotes, and Frommer’s brands.

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