Stock Watch: FreeMarkets Surges on Strong Q3

FreeMarkets, Inc. (Nasdaq: FMKT) climbed 6 15/32 to 56 7/16 early Tuesday after reporting stronger-than-expected results for the third quarter and predicting an operating profit sooner than previously thought.

FreeMarkets, which operates online auctions for businesses to buy and sell products and supplies, said revenue for the quarter soared 397 percent from the year-earlier period to $26.6 million. The company posted a loss before items of $12.3 million, or 33 cents per diluted share, topping analysts’ estimates by 9 cents.

“Given the strength and momentum of our business, we believe that we will break even from an operating standpoint by the first quarter of 2002, which is two full quarters earlier than analysts had previously predicted,” said chairman and chief executive officer Glen T. Meakem.

“During the quarter, we again grew our revenues, market volumes, gross margins and customer wins above expectations,” Meakem added.

During the quarter, 1,690 auctions were conducted through the FreeMarkets B2B e-marketplace, with $2.93 billion worth of goods and services changing hands. Volume was 34 percent above second-quarter levels and 302 percent higher than in the 1999 third quarter.

The number of customers using the company’s marketplace also rose, reaching 84 at quarter’s end, up from just 18 a year earlier. Customers were added in key markets in the United States, Europe, Asia and South America, FreeMarkets said.

The company also gained 1,400 suppliers during the quarter, bringing the total to more than 7,000.

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