Indefatigable iVillage chairman and chief executive officer Doug McCormick has contended since early last year that the media player, based in the fashion district here, would be cash-flow positive for both the quarter and full year. But the persistently poor ad climate and high costs of operating and expanding the business kept iVillage in the loss column for the full year ended Dec. 31, even on a pro forma basis excluding one-time and restructuring charges and certain noncash expenses.
The firm’s fourth-quarter $700,000 pro forma earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization compare with a pro forma loss of $20 million a year earlier, and came on revenue of $18 million, down 33 percent from revenue of $26.8 million in the final fiscal period of 2000. For the full year, however, iVillage had a pro forma loss of $32 million, before one-time charges and special items, versus a year-ago pro forma loss of $83 million. Pro forma revenue for 2001 — which flowed from flagship portal iVillage.com and various offline properties — plummeted 42 percent, to $70.2 million from $120 million in 2000.
Still, it’s significant that iVillage managed an EBITDA-positive period, despite a deeper sales drop than it had estimated, and during a year in which it made several acquisitions, including the purchase of archrival Women.com; launched various paid services; avoided a Nasdaq delisting, and let go more than half its workforce, after completing the Women.com transaction.
Nor is iVillage lowering its sights. It is staying on the hunt for deals and announced Tuesday that it has agreed to acquire New York-based direct-marketer Promotions.com for $3.5 million in iVillage stock, a move that will allow the network of media properties to provide more services to advertisers. “We are definitely still in an acquisition mode, especially when you look at the number of companies out there we could bring under our umbrella and make profitable,” declared Carl R. Fischer 4th, iVillage’s vice president of corporate communications.
IVillage is targeting the fourth quarter of 2002 for its first net profit. “We’re predicting we’ll be break-even on a pro forma cash-flow basis for the second quarter of ’02,” Fischer said Tuesday. “We expect to produce a flat-out profit in the fourth quarter of 2002 and we are estimating we’ll have EBITDA of between $5 million and $10 million for the full year ’02.”
McCormick noted in a statement: “While we continued to operate against a challenging economic backdrop in 2001, we removed more than $100 million from our cost base, delivered two consecutive quarters of pro forma EBITDA profits, and grew our user metrics. By aggressively improving our cost structure and adopting an income-based budgeting model, iVillage is in a strong position to continue to grow despite external conditions of the industry.”
As recently as last May, iVillage’s annual cash burn rate was running at $130 million, but it slashed that figure to $70 million by July, and curtailed it further during the second half, spending approximately $24.7 million. On Dec. 31, its fiscal yearend, iVillage had $38.3 million in cash and equivalents on its balance sheet — about $300,000 more than McCormick had forecast back in November.
IVillage’s net loss for the fourth quarter totaled $9.8 million, down sharply from a year-ago net loss from continuing operations of $73 million; for the full year, its net loss was $73 million, against a loss of $312 million in 2000.
Its shares added 11.3 percent, to close at $2.75 in Nasdaq trading Tuesday, just 10 cents off their 52-week high. IVillage went public in March 1999 at $24 a share.