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MP3.com yesterday saw its losses narrow to nearly a third despite the company's troubles with the music industry majors, in particular Universal Music Group.

The online music business saw its Q3 loss drop to $6.1 million, down from $17.8 million for the same period last year. The latest figure represents earnings of nine cents a share, just ahead of the 12 cents a share Wall Street had anticipated, according to First Call's average.

Revenues for the quarter hit $20.5 million, an increase of 400 per cent on the $4.1 million MP3.com posted this time last year, but only slightly higher than last quarter's $20.5 million. The company said that the latest figure was at least $4 million down because of cash it had expected to make from online advertising. That sum may make it onto next quarter's books, by which time MP3.com expects to have return to its quarter-on-quarter growth pattern, rising seven to ten per cent on Q3's revenue. The company reckons its revenues will grow 40-60 per cent through 2001, which should see it hit the $100 million mark.

In the shorter term, MP3.com will still have to find up to $250 million to pay off Universal, though it is appealing against the level of the damages imposed by the US District Court. The company settled out of court with the other four major recording operations, EMI, Sony, BMG and Warner, and took the resulting payments in its second quarter.

The Q3 figures don't included lawsuit related items, but other one-offs take MP3.com's final loss to $48.7 million (74 cents a share), up from $19.9 million in Q3 1999. ®

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