CheckFree Corp. reported Wednesday that it lost slightly less in the June quarter, the last of its fiscal year, than analysts had expected.

The fiscal-year loss was also less than expected.

The Atlanta-based electronic billing company lost $16.8 million in the year that ended June 30, after earning $2 million in its fiscal 1999. It lost $5.1 million in the quarter, having earned $2.8 million a year earlier.

The results exclude the cost of CheckFree's acquisition of BlueGill Technologies, which closed in the fiscal fourth quarter.

Revenues increased 25%, to $88.5 million, for the quarter and 24%, to $310.2 million, for the year. The quarterly loss was 9 cents per share, 1 cent less than estimates published by First Call, a Thomson Financial company.

David Mangum, CheckFree's executive vice president and chief financial officer, attributed the full-year loss to increased investments in marketing, as well as in technology to accommodate its growing customer base and develop "next generation" payments, such as person-to-person payments.

The company said it had 157 billers signed up to deliver their bills over the Internet on June 30, up 154% from a year earlier. It is distributing bills through 200 sites, versus 150 on March 31 and only one on June 30, 1999. It also increased the monthly total of bills distributed by 50%, to 94,000 in June - a rate of 1.1 million bills year.

"We have had another very solid quarter of executing our plans, closing the year in a better than expected position," said Peter Kight, chief executive officer. "We exceeded our goal of having 120 signed billers by 30%, ending the year with 157. I am particularly pleased with this accomplishment."

The number of consumers subscribing to CheckFree's electronic bill payment services increased 8%, as the company had forecast in March. CheckFree reported 20% growth in the number of subscribers for its electronic bill delivery and payment service for the sixth consecutive quarter.

"It's a good sign for them because they are seeing terrific growth from the channel that they want to be seeing growth in," said Glenn Greene, vice president and senior analyst at ABN Amro.

CheckFree expects to close its acquisition of Transpoint by the end of October, Mr. Kight said. Its agreement with Bank of America, in which the bank will acquire 15% of CheckFree, is also expected to close by October. As part of that deal, Bank of America awarded CheckFree a 10-year contract to handle its electronic bill payment and presentment, and the two companies plan to introduce an online person-to-person payment service next year.

CheckFree "expects significant advancements in the consumer service provider sector" as the Bank of America services comes to market, Mr. Kight said. "As we roll out 'next-generation' services, we'll be encouraging consumers not only to receive and pay bills, but also to exchange payments with each other and with Internet merchants using their existing, secure accounts."

For its first fiscal quarter of 2001, CheckFree expects a loss per share of 10 cents to 12 cents, above First Call's estimate of a 9-cents-per-share loss. CheckFree's stock reacted to this difference Wednesday, closing at $50.13, down from $54.75 at Tuesday's close.

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