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Napster parent Q4, FY loss widens

But will sell $30-40m worth of songs this year

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Napster parent Roxio saw quarterly and annual losses bloom on declining sales but was able to claim it had beaten its own expectations.

For the three months to 31 March, Roxio lost $6.6m (20 cents a share), almost three times the year-ago quarter's $2.3m (12 cents a share) loss.

Revenues for the quarter - Roxio's fourth - totalled $33.6m, down fractionally on the $33.8m it reported this time last year.

For the full fiscal year, sales reached $99.3m, down 17.5 per cent on 2003's $120.4m. Roxio's annual loss ballooned 348.5 per cent from $9.9m (51 cents a share) in 2003 to $44.4m (162 cents a share) in 2004.

The expectation-beating figure comes from Napster. Last March, Roxio forecast it would sell $5.5m worth of music downloads this quarter - in the finally tally it sold $6.1m of songs.

Roxio did not say how many songs Napster has sold during the quarter. However, it forecast Q1 revenues from the online service to total $7m, an increase of 14.8 per cent. The company expects Napster to contribute $30-40m during the current fiscal year.

Prices vary according to the mix of subscription sales to one-off downloads, and whether those downloads are sold as individual songs or in album-length batches, but very roughly speaking Napster's 2005 revenue contribution requires the sale of 35-45m songs. By contrast, Apple reckons it will sell at least 140m downloads in the 12 months from 28 April 2004, based on weekly sales of 2.7m. Yesterday it announced it had sold 3.3m songs in the first full week since that date.

During Q4 2004, Napster lost $9.8m. Roxio's digital media software division recorded revenues of $27.5m and pre-tax income of $4.8m, including restructuring charges of $2.9m. ®

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