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Loss Widens at Move

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Move, Inc. reported revenues of $49.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2009, down 14% year over year. However, revenues came ahead of the management’s guidance driven by media advertising revenue at the end of the year as some media advertisers spent money at the year-end. and TOP PRODUCER were down 11% and 3%, respectively. The year-ago quarter had a $0.9 million contribution from the enterprise business, which was sold in the fourth quarter.

Move provides a variety of real estate services through a family of websites. These services, which include online media and technology solutions, are provided to real estate industry professionals, advertisers and providers of home and real estate-related products and services.

Gross margin was 78% for the quarter, down from 80% in the prior-year quarter, due to a large fixed cost component and other higher costs. Sales and marketing costs declined by 23% primarily due to decreased marketing spend and reduced personnel costs. General & Administrative expenses were down 13% due to continued cost reduction efforts.

Net loss was $4.5 million or 3 cents per share compared to a loss of $3.2 million or 2 cents in the year-ago quarter. The reported net income was worse than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of break-even earnings.

Adjusted EBITDA (earnings from continuing operations before interest, taxes, stock-based compensation and charges, depreciation, amortization and other non-recurring charges) was $5.0 million, or 10% of revenue, compared to $7.3 million, or 13% of revenue in the year-ago quarter.

Revenues of $212.0 million in 2009 were down 12.4% year over year. Adjusted EBITDA was $24.3 million, or 11% of revenue, compared to $22.2 million, or 9% of revenue, for 2008. Net loss was $12.2 million or 8 cents per share compared to a loss of $34.3 million or 23 cents in 2008.

Move ended the quarter with cash, short-term investments of $107 million, a decline of $9 million from the last quarter due to an investment of $6.5 million in new homes joint venture, along with legal settlements and capital expenditures.

About $2.5 million of the legal expense will be paid out in Q1 2010. During the quarter, Move received an unfavorable judgment in its arbitration with Citigroup regarding auction rate securities. Move has $129.4 million in auction rate securities (par value) which are reflected on the balance sheet at $111.8 million.

Business Outlook

Going forward, management expects revenues of $48 million in the first quarter of 2010. Adjusted EBITDA margin is estimated at 10%.

Move has also provided guidance for 2010. Revenues are projected between $186 million and $192 million. The company continues to target an adjusted EBITDA of approximately 10%.

The past two years have been very tough for the company due to a rapid deterioration in the global economy led by the sub-prime mortgage crisis. The situation has not improved much, though the pace of decline has slowed.

Move now has a new management team which has a tough task in its hands to turn the company around in the current scenario. The stock price fell 2.94% in after-hours trading to close at $1.65.

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