Netscape profit up on eve of AOL purchase

Netscape has announced financial results for probably the last time as an independent company - including record company revenue of $162.0 million for the fourth quarter. Operating income for the quarter was $0.9 million , compared to an operating loss of $2.1 million for the preceding quarter. Revenue for Netscape's Netcenter portal business increased 24% to $48.0 million and its enterprise software and services business was up 2% during the quarter to $114.0 million.

Netscape has announced financial results for probably the last time as an independent company.

America Online Inc. earlier today announced it would purchase Netscape in a stock-for-stock deal worth $US4.2 billion.

Netscape reported what it said was record company revenue of $162.0 million for the fourth quarter, which ended Oct. 31. Operating income for the quarter was $0.9 million , compared to an operating loss of $2.1 million for the preceding quarter, according to a statement from Netscape.

Fourth quarter net income was $2.7 million, or $0.03 per share, compared with net income of $0.1 million, or $0 per share, for the previous quarter, Netscape said.

Revenue for Netscape's Netcenter portal business increased 24%to $48.0 million for the fourth quarter, compared to $38.7 million for the third quarter, the company said.

Netscape's Enterprise software and services business grew slightly, up 2% during the quarter to $114.0 million, compared to $111.6 million for the previous quarter, Netscape said.

Under the terms of AOL's deal with Netscape, Netscape stockholders will receive 0.45 shares of AOL common stock for each share of Netscape stock, according to a statement from AOL. Jim Barksdale, Netscape's president and chief executive officer, will join AOL's board of directors after the deal closes, the statement said. In keeping with AOL's multiple-brand strategy, Netscape will retain its Mountain View, California headquarters, according to AOL, though the exact scope of Netscape's continued independent existence was not immediately clear.

Pending regulatory approval, the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter next year, AOL said.

AOL will continue to offer Microsoft's Internet Explorer to its AOL online customers, according to the statement. Netscape's Navigator browser is locked in battle with Explorer, and some observers had speculated that an AOL/Netscape deal could eject Explorer from AOL's offerings. AOL will also offer Netscape client software to its users, downloadable from the Web using AOL's ICQ instant messaging capability, according to AOL.

AOL also announced a strategic alliance with Sun Microsystems Inc., including plans to develop Internet devices using Sun's Java programming language to access AOL's services. The deal with Sun, which is separate but related to its Netscape acquisition, encompasses a three-year development and marketing agreement, according to AOL. AOL and Sun also together will develop the next version of Netscape's Navigator and Communicator software clients and AOL will use Java in its e-commerce offerings, the company said.

AOL and Sun also will jointly develop a suite of easy-to-deploy software designed to help companies and Internet service providers engage in electronic commerce, according to AOL. AOL will buy systems and services from Sun worth $500 million at list price through 2002, AOL said. For its part, AOL will receive more than $350 million in licensing, marketing and advertising fees from Sun, AOL said.

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