CHARLOTTE, N.C. - LendingTree Inc. reported Wednesday that it had lost $15 million, or 81 cents per share, in the third quarter, 20% less than in the second.

The loan exchange and mortgage origination technology provider also reported that revenues increased to $9 million in the third quarter, a 17% increase from revenues in the second quarter. The loss per share was better than analysts estimates of 89 cents.

"We are very pleased with the quarterly results, particularly the fact that our revenue continues to increase even as we have reduced advertising expenses," said Keith Hall, chief financial officer of LendingTree.

For the year LendingTree has lost $51 million, attributable mostly to a heavy marketing budget to promote its Web site. It spent $10 million on advertising last year and budgeted $50 million for 2000.

The company expects to become profitable in the second half of 2002 or sooner, said Douglas Lebda, chief executive officer.

LendingTree also reported that more than $1.3 billion in closed loans were processed through its exchange in the third quarter, for a nine-month total of $3.2 billion, and that it generated more than 211,000 loan applications during the quarter, 18% more than in the second.

LendingTree's stock was up 10% in late trading Wednesday, to $3.25.

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