Bluefly Gains on Strong Q3 (Nasdaq: BFLY) was up 1/16 at 2 1/2 early Friday after the discount e-tailer reported strong third-quarter results.

The company, which sells designer fashions and home furnishings at prices up to 75 percent below retail, said revenue for the quarter rose 272 percent from a year earlier to $3.215 million, due largely to an increase in the number of customers and sales to repeat customers.

The company lost $4.98 million, or $1.10 per share, in the quarter, compared with a loss of $3.35 million, or 71 cents, in the same quarter last year.

Bluefly said it added 24,497 new customers during the quarter. Existing customers, meanwhile, accounted for about 51 percent of revenue, up from 35 percent in the 1999 third quarter. According to the company, customer acquisition costs fell by almost 68 percent. Bluefly said it cost $57.45 to gain a customer during the latest quarter, down from $178.66 a year earlier.

“Of all the success we had this quarter, I am particularly proud of our improvement in operating efficiency,” said chief executive officer Ken Seiff.

“Lowering our customer acquisition cost by more than $121 over the past year was no small feat,” Seiff said. “Seeing our gross revenue per unique visitor increase by more than $2.50 over the past year and stay above $4 during a traditionally weak retail quarter was also very gratifying.”

Bluefly shares, which traded above 16 a year ago, have fallen with other e-tail issues in recent months. The stock got a boost in October when a partnership controlled by investor George Soros agreed to buy a controlling stake in the company under a financing plan that could raise as much as $25 million.

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