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Lastminute.com is on course to be profitable within the next 12 months executives at the online bucket shop said today.

Such an upbeat assessment of one of the defining companies of the dotcom age is bound to bolster the mood of investors who've seen their share price tumble from a high of 555p only to bump along at a miserable 60 pence or there about in recent weeks.

Not so. In early morning trading the share price fell a further 4.5 pence (7.44 per cent) nudging it down to 52 pence.

Even though "order based total transaction value" has increased by 47.3 per cent quarter on quarter to £31 million and gross profit increased by 39 per cent quarter on quarter to £3.9 million, Lastminute.com can't hide the simple truth that's it's losing money hand over fist.

For the quarter ended 31 March 2001, Lastminute.com recorded a pre-tax loss of £14.3 million compared to £11.0 million during the same period last year.

Turnover increased sharply from £834,000 in Q2 last year to £4.1million. And it reckon that with £60 million still in the bank from its float last year that it will have enough cash see it through the year.

Allan Leighton, Chairman said: "This is another set of solid financial results, as we continue to adjust our business model, to focus on quality not just quantity of transactions.

"All the true retail metrics of sales, conversion and gross margin have again increased quarter on quarter, and as a result we expect both the UK and combined French operations to be profitable within the next twelve months."

That will be a first. As is this - a Lastminute.com story that doesn't mention you know who. ®

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