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Lastminute.com loss statement boosts shares

Results better than expected

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Shares in Lastminute.com gained almost six per cent yesterday, as the company reported better than expected results for the quarter ending 31 December.

Takings were up more than 80 per cent at £264.4m, and gross profit was £43.7m, up from £25m a year ago. The company reported a loss of £1.8m, more than the £1.1m in the same period a year before, but better than market watchers were expecting.

Last year, the travel broker significantly expanded its operations across Europe through a series of acquisitions. Although CEO Brent Hoberman maintained that the expansion was necessary to allow Lastminute to compete in Europe, he acknowledged that it had also added to the cost base.

This quarter, however, had produced a "solid set of results" he said. "We have delivered record TTV for the first quarter, partly achieved through acquisitions and partly through strong organic growth driven by enhancing the customer offering... our integration and cost reduction plans remain on track."

But pulling a decent quarter out of the bag at Christmas is not likely to impress in the long term. Both Reuters and the BBC quote Peter Smedley, an analyst at Bridgewell Securities as saying: "While there may well be a relief bounce today, we would remind investors that the first quarter is seasonally the least significant. Progress in the first quarter is simply not sufficient at this point to give comfort on full-year numbers." ®

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