Napster slashes its losses

From Times Wire Reports

Napster Inc. said Wednesday that its loss narrowed nearly 50% during its fiscal fourth quarter as the online music retailer saw higher sales and added subscribers.

The Los Angeles-based company posted a loss of $4.3 million, or 10 cents a share, in the three months ended March 31. That compares with a loss of $8.5 million, or 20 cents, a year earlier. Revenue rose 6% to $30.8 million.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected a loss of 13 cents a share on $30.7 million in revenue.

Napster said it closed the quarter with about 760,000 paid subscribers worldwide, up from 743,000 at the end of December.

The company forecast its first-quarter revenue would range between $30 million and $31 million, with earnings per share to be relatively flat.

Napster Chief Executive Chris Gorog said recent initiatives in mobile music and a shift to selling tracks in the MP3 format -- making Napster's a la carte downloads compatible with iPods and virtually all digital music players -- would help drive future revenue growth.

Shares of Napster closed up 6 cents, or 3.7%, at $1.69 before the results were announced.

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