Falls After Q4 Loss was down 6 U.S. cents at 69 cents in morning trading Wednesday after reporting a bigger loss for the fourth quarter ended December 31st. The company said it will cut expenses to deal with a slow market.

The Houston, Texas-based e-tailer of luxury goods is likely to turn a profit in the fourth quarter of this year, according to chief executive officer Kenny Kurtzman said. Sales by Ashford rose to $27.75 million in the quarter from $20.1 million in the year-earlier period.

However, Ashford posted a net loss for the quarter of $40.02 million, or 87 cents per share, compared with a loss of $19.04 million, or 51 cents, a year earlier.

The company said it will cut spending on marketing and put in place other cost-saving measures “in response to the possibility of a sluggish retail environment in 2001.”

Ashford said that it had 205,023 customer accounts at quarter’s end, up 210 percent from a year earlier and up 38 percent from the end of the prior quarter. Repeat customers accounted for 28 percent of total sales in the latest quarter, up from 22 percent a year earlier.

“Our strong results this quarter, despite a weak holiday retail season, show that we are continuing to drive the business toward profitability,” Kurtzman said.

“We believe we are improving the economics and the performance of nearly all key metrics that characterize a successful and enduring business,” he added.

The acquisition of art e-tailer, with its high-margin, low-inventory business, should help lower costs and boost profits, according to the company.

Ashford also said it added a “home and lifestyle” department, carrying gifts and accessories including crystal by Kosta Boda, Orrefors and Hoya; frames and collectible jewelry boxes by Jay Strongwater and Wendy Reed; and tabletop and barware by Lisa Jenks and Saint Hillaire.

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