Restructuring Plan Boosts MarchFIRST

MarchFIRST, Inc. (Nasdaq: MRCH) wasup 3/16 at 1 1/4 early Wednesday after the Internet consultant announced arestructuring plan and projected a loss for the fourth quarter.

The company said it will concentrate on its top 500 clients, which togetheraccount for about 80 percent of its business, and “scale back sharply” itsofferings for dot-com companies.

Revenue for the quarter will range from US$235 million to $250 million, andthe loss per share will total 25 to 30 cents, the Chicago, Illinois-based companysaid. MarchFIRST will take a restructuring charge of $25 million to $35million in the quarter to cover severance costs and otherrestructuring-related expenses.

Before the announcement, analysts were looking for the company to earn 7cents per share in the fourth quarter.

By 2001, MarchFIRST said, growth should pick up. The company expects revenueto grow at a 6 to 10 percent sequential rate next year, totaling $1.2billion to $1.3 billion for the year as a whole. Earnings per share for 2001will be 25 to 35 cents, the company said.

“To address the changes in our marketplace and improve our operationalefficiencies, we are executing a clear, focused and aggressive action plan,”said chairman and chief executive officer Robert Bernard.

The realignment comes after a four-month study of the company’s internalassets and long-term market opportunities. In addition to serving its top500 existing clients, the company said it will look to gain business inindustries that have high growth potential. Manufacturing, financialservices, health care and telecommunications are among areas to be tapped,MarchFIRST said.

The company also plans to expand its presence in boomingmarkets such as the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America.

The company said it may sell some of its “non-core” assets to raise cash.Other cost-cutting moves include centralizing the company’s globaloperations, putting in place tighter management and financial controls, andcutting back on discretionary spending. Earlier this month, the company letgo about 1,000 employees, or 10 percent of its workforce.

MarchFIRST shares have taken a pounding this year, falling from a 52-weekhigh of 81 1/4.src=”” width=21 height=10 border=0>

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