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Net firm travels to profit.

Byline: Ben Griffiths

INTERNET travel firm lastminute. com has shrugged off the impact of Sars, war in Iraq and terrorism fears to say summer bookings had started strongly for its key fourth quarter trading period.

Lastminute, which also sells gifts, ent ertain men tactivities and restaurant bookings alongside holidays, reported a profit for its third quarter.

The firm has only had a profitable quarter once before -in the three months to September last year. This time last minute said pre-tax profits were pounds 1.6m before one-off costs compared with a loss of pounds 4m in the period last year.

The group said its return to profitability reflected technological improvements which encouraged more visitors to its web site to bookholidays.

At the bottomline, lastminute's pre-tax losses increased to pounds 12.1m in the quarter from pounds 8.7m in same period last year.

The company has been hit by goodwill charges related to recent acquisitions including Holiday Autos. Turnover was pounds 61.4m, up from pounds 8.3m last time. The firm, which floated in 2000, was founded by entrepreneurs Martha Lane-Fox and Brent Hoberman who now work as managing director and chief executive.

CAPTION(S):

STRONG QUARTER: Martha Lane Fox of lastminute.com
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 6, 2003
Words:204
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