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Online travel firm Lastminute.com has slipped back in the black, notching up a Q3 pre-tax profit of £1.6 million.

The last time the dotcom travel and gift outfit reported such good news was back in Q4 when it scored a pre-tax profit (pre exceptionals) of £302,000 compared to a pre-tax loss of just under £4m during the same period the year before.

Publishing Q3 results today, Lastminute reported that gross profit for the quarter was up 273.7 per cent to £29.5 million compared with £7.9 million in the same period last year.

Pre-tax profit (before goodwill amortisation and exceptional items) was up 141.2 per cent to £1.6 million - well up on the £4 million loss made in Q3 last year.

The company is cock-a-hoop at its performance, especially in light of the difficult trading conditions made worse by concerns over SARS, war and the continued threat of terrorism following the Iraq conflict.

Despite this, Lastminute reports that summer bookings have started strongly for Q4 already securing record forward bookings of £61 million.

"We remain confident of a positive outcome for the full year," said chairman Allan Leighton.

Today's results coincide with news that former Nokia VP Ian McCaig has been appointed COO.

Shares in Lastminute.com were up 10p (4.7 per cent) at 221p by mid morning. ®

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