Any Profit in a Storm

Montreal e-market builder bucks trend, makes money

Montreal -- May 16, 2001-- Surprise, surprise. Somebody is making some money off this whole B2B e-marketplace thing after all.

Mediagrif Interactive Technologies, a Montreal-based developer and operator of B2B e-marketplaces, announced this week that it had net income for the year ending March 31, 2001, of $0.6 million, or $0.03 per share. (That's Canadian dollars, by the way.)

Sure, those aren't the kind of figures that inspire irrational exuberance. But in these dark days of high-tech layoffs, depressed valuations and immoderate schadenfreude, a little breath of fresh air from the Great White North is as welcome as an Arctic Blast during a July heat wave.

Mediagrif, which opened its first B2B marketplace in 1996, currently operates nine functioning e-markets, ranging from the coolly functional Virtual Chip Exchange, PowerSource Online (a marketplace for the computer equipment industry) and Virtual MRO to the palatally tantalizing Global Wine & Spirits exchange. B2B Vertical Markets, a joint venture between Royal Bank of Canada and Mediagrif, announced NET3F, an automotive parts marketplace, in April.

For the year ended March 31, 2001, the company's revenues increased to $68.7 million (again, in Canadian dollars). While gross profit for the year grew to $21.0 million, an increase of 192 percent over the previous year, the net income of $0.03 per share equaled the per share net income for the previous year. Notably, net profit for the fourth quarter ending ended March 31, 2001, was $0.2 million, or $0.01 per share. The company completed its initial public offering during the past year.

Liquidity being the key metrics for the online economy, the company reported that, as of March 31, 2001, the membership base of its nine operational marketplaces increased 10 percent to 9,600 businesses, from 8,700 as of December 31, 2000. Gross profit generated from memberships and transaction fees, software licensing and other revenues amounted to $5.8 million, representing a 23 percent increase over the previous quarter.

Mediagrif noted that the proportionate share of its gross profit from the Virtual Chip Exchange was down to $0.7 million during the quarter from $1.2 million in the previous quarter, "reflecting prevailing market conditions."

Hey, you have to take the bad with the good, right?