Fool.com: Reel.com Readies for Wall Street Debut (Breakfast News) December 3, 1999

BREAKFAST WITH THE FOOL

Friday, December 3, 1999

"Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear [costly] to you."
-- Thomas Jefferson

Reel.com Readies for Wall Street Debut

By Richard McCaffery (TMF Gibson)

Movie review, information, and video sales website Reel.com, a subsidiary of number two video cassette rental chain Hollywood Entertainment (Nasdaq: HLYW), filed plans to go public yesterday to raise cash for expansion and help prepare Hollywood Entertainment for eventual delivery of movies to homes electronically.

Reel.com's filing at the Securities and Exchange Commission isn't available yet, but Hollywood Entertainment has said it plans to sell a minority stake in the company, which it purchased in October 1998 for $96.9 million.

Reel.com offers new and used movies for purchase and has a staff of more than 40 writers that offer movie reviews, interviews, trivia, and other information about the entertainment industry.

For the third quarter, Reel.com reported online revenue of $9.7 million, up 21% sequentially, and a pre-tax loss of $10.2 million. At the end of the quarter, the number of customer accounts topped the 650,000 mark. Its customer base is growing 20% a quarter, according to management. Reel.com had 1.4 million unique visitors in September, according to Media Metrix (Nasdaq: MMXI).

Since the video retail industry is the biggest source of revenue for movie studios, representing nearly 50% of the $13.8 billion domestic market last year, there should be plenty room for Reel.com to grow, especially since movie studios have increased advertising budgets aimed at video rentals and sales.

The company plans to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker REEL.

News to Go

Health plan and financial services firm Aetna (NYSE: AET) is looking into ways to jump-start momentum in its share price. Possibilities include issuing a tracking stock, selling assets, or spinning off units, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Schering/Key Pharmaceuticals, a division of pharmaceutical and healthcare company Schering-Plough (NYSE: SGP), recalled five lots of asthma inhalant medicine Vanceril because it may not contain the medication's active drug.

Performance communications, networking, and data storage system manufacturer Performance Technologies (Nasdaq: PTIX) is buying privately held MicroLegend Telecom of Ottawa, Ontario for about $43.6 million in stock. The deal is expected to boost Performance Technologies' product portfolio and add to its competency interconnecting IP telephony networks.

Truckload transportation carrier services company Landstar System (Nasdaq: LSTR) announced plans to repurchase an additional 1 million shares of its stock, an 11% slice of its outstanding common stock. Since 1997 the company has repurchased 3.6 million shares at an average price of $32.49. It closed yesterday at $42 3/8.

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