Lastminute moves into the black

Former London stock market star lastminute.com today showed it had moved into the black for the first time, boosted by a jump in sales.

Former London stock market star lastminute.com today showed it had moved into the black for the first time, boosted by a jump in sales.

The group said it made pre-tax profits for the three-month period to September 30 of £302,000 (€477,000), although the figure excludes one-off costs.

During the quarter, the most important for the travel sector, the total transaction value of items sold on its site was £112.4m (€177.5m), up 84% on the previous quarter and 140% over the same period last time.

For the financial year as a whole, the group still posted a loss, although this was reduced to £38.1m (€60m) from £53.7m (€84.8m) the previous year.

Lastminute, which sells travel and entertainment tickets through its web site, pleased the market in September when it forecast it would move into profit during the fourth quarter.

The group was one of the darlings of the tech boom – famed for turning founders Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman into paper millionaires overnight when it floated in March 2000.

But the firm became a symbol of the boom ending when shares slumped below their 380p (€4.86) issue price and carried on falling.

Observers then focused on when and if the company would make a profit.

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