Digitas Moves Into the Black

NEW YORK Digitas swung to a net profit in the fourth quarter of 2002, and said it expects to record a profit again in this year’s first quarter.

The i-shop Wednesday reported a net income of $1.7 million or three cents per share in the fourth quarter. That compares to a net loss of $44.5 million or 71 cents per share in Q3 and $6.3 million or 10 cents per share in the year-ago period.

The Boston-based company, which provides digital and direct services for clients like American Express and AT&T, also said it expects to achieve earnings per share between 4-7 cents and fee revenue of $52-54 million in the first quarter of 2003.

Fee revenue totaled $51.4 million for the fourth quarter, up 9 percent compared to $47 million a year ago. Total revenue, including reimbursable pass-through expenses, was $92.3 million compared to $66.6 million in Q4 2001.

“Having our revenue up 9 percent makes for a strong year,” said David Kenny, chairman and chief executive officer of Digitas. “The business is on solid ground; new clients are coming in…But we live in troubled times. The situation in the Middle East affects marketers over here.” He called the company’s outlook “cautious optimism.”

For full-year 2002, Digitas posted a net loss of $40.3 million or 65 cents per share, versus a 2001 net loss of $94.1 million or $1.58 per share. Fee revenue reached $203.9 million in 2002, compared with $235.5 million for the prior year.

Digitas shares closed Wednesday on the Nasdaq at $4.11, up 13 cents or 3.27 percent. The stock’s (DTAS) 52-week high is $6.10 and 52-week low is $2.