CheckFree Gains on Q2 Results

CheckFree Corp. (Nasdaq: CKFR) was upUS$6.19 at $56.75 early Wednesday after the company, which provides onlinebilling and payment services, reported an increase in sales for the secondquarter ended December 31st.

Robertson Stephens reportedly raised its rating on CheckFree shares tostrong buy from buy after the report.

“We had a very good quarter across our electronic commerce operations and anextraordinary quarter from a quality perspective,” said CheckFree president and chiefoperating officer Pete Sinisgalli. “This quarter we achieved our goal of99.9 percent systems availability and transaction processing quality, alsoknown as ‘dial tone’ reliability.”

Subscriber growth of 8 percent “was at the high end of our expectations,”said chairman and chief executive officer Pete Kight.

“Healthy increases inbills distributed were spread relatively evenly across both billers andconsumer service providers, and we showed a strong gain in the percent oftransactions we processed electronically this quarter,” Kight said.

CheckFree said revenue for the quarter rose 48 percent from a year earlierto $107.7 million. The company posted a loss of $5.0 million, or 6 cents pershare, before one-time charges, compared with a loss of $2.5 million, or 5cents, a year earlier. The loss was a penny better than analysts hadexpected.

For the third quarter, the company expects revenue of $109 million to $114million, with a pro forma loss of 4 to 6 cents per share.

Almost 275 sites now provide CheckFree-backed electronic billing andpayment, up from a few more than 100 at the end of the year-earlier quarter.The company signed deals with 12 billers during the period.

In December alone, CheckFree saw more than 210,000 bills distributed overthe Internet, up from about 140,000 in September and 38,000 in theyear-earlier month. The company said it is on track for more than 2.5million bills this year.

Subscriber growth was helped by an agreement with Bank of America, which isin the process of being put in place. CheckFree’s 4.4 million subscribersinclude 300,000 Bank of America California customers who pay their bills online.

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