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Strong First Quarter for Autobytel.com

By Andy Wang
Apr 30, 1999 12:00 AM PT

Online automobile buying service Autobytel.com (Nasdaq: ABTL) reinforced its leadership position in the industry on Thursday when it announced its first-quarter results. The company announced record first-quarter revenues of $8 million, 73 percent higher than the $4.6 million (US$) reported for the same quarter last year. Autobytel.com also reported a net loss of 68 per share, compared to 83 cents per share for the same quarter last year.

Strong First Quarter for Autobytel.com

On March 25th, J.D. Power and Associates reported that Autobytel.com "generates nearly as many new-vehicle sales as its two closest competitors combined." According to the study, Autobytel.com ranked highest in dealer satisfaction for the second year in a row, generating the highest volume of purchase requests for both new and used vehicles as well as the highest closing ratio among online automobile buying services.

During March, traffic on Autobytel.com grew to 19.2 million page views, up 21 percent from December, according to Media Metrix. The increase in total Internet usage over the same period was just eight percent. The number of unique users that visited Autobytel.com grew 48 percent from December to more than a million in March.

Focus on Global Expansion

In the first quarter, more than 174 paying automobile dealers joined the AutoBytel.com network, which grew by 45 percent. The company is now focusing on going global.

"In addition to completing our initial public offering, during the first quarter, we progressed in building our international presence, launching Autobytel.se in Sweden, preparing for the second-quarter launch of Autobytel.co.uk in the United Kingdom, and signing a letter of intent to launch Autobytel.jp in Japan with several Japanese partners,'' said Mark Lorimer, president and CEO of autobytel.com.

New Auction Service

On Monday, Autobytel.com launched an auction service that allows its 2,700 accredited dealers to bid on used wholesale vehicles at wholesale.autobytel.com. The service will soon be open to non-Autobytel.com dealers, fleet, rental, and lease companies.

In addition to saving dealers time and money, the service also provides security for dealers. Before any automobile is posted on the auction site, the vehicle will undergo an inspection where a Vehicle Condition Report will be generated. Transactions are completed with an escrow process.

Stock Impact

Shares of Autobytel.com were up 1-9/16 to 30-9/16 in early trading today. Autobytel.com just went public in March, and the stock is now significantly off its high of 58.

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