The stock price of Ask Jeeves, Inc. (Nasdaq: ASKJ) lost more than half its value in the first few minutes of trading Friday, falling4 61/64 to 4 47/64, after the company said it will report a bigger-than-expected loss from continuing operations and that that its chief executive officeris stepping down.
The Emeryville, California-based search-engine company said CEO RobWrubel will step down from that position and from the board of directors,taking on the title of executive vice president of market development.Wrubel will focus on new product development and “evangelizing,” Ask Jeevessaid.
For now, A. George (Skip) Battle will serve as interim CEO.
The company said it expects revenue of about US$25 million for the fourthquarter, and a pro forma loss from continuing operations of about $18million, or 50 cents per share.
Company president Adam Klein blamed the shortfall on an economic slowdown, which he said “has caused weakness in the online advertising market,advertising pricing pressure and a decreased sense of urgency among Fortune 1000 companies toimplement their online initiatives.”
Ask Jeeves said it is “reviewing” its growth targets for next year and expects to meet its target for operating profits. “We believeour solid cash position is sufficient to fund our operations toprofitability, which we continue to expect to achieve in the fourth quarterof 2001,” Battle said.
Ask Jeeves reported a third-quarter pro forma loss of 36 cents per share asrevenue rose 326 percent from a year earlier. After all charges, the companylost $38.5 million or $1.08 per share, compared with $11.8 million or 44cents in the same quarter a year earlier.