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Tuesday, Jun 6, 2023

ValueClick Having Happy Holiday Shopping Season

‘Tis the season for e-commerce and no one knows that better than ValueClick Inc., the Westlake Village Internet company that provides banner ads to 13,000 clients. Buttressed by more shoppers turning to the Internet to shop for holiday gifts in the weeks after Thanksgiving, the eight-year-old company has seen its year-to-date earnings jump 36.1 percent as of Dec. 11, finishing the year with a market cap of $2.41 billion. Such growth has fueled a rapid expansion by ValueClick, which went public just six years ago and acquired 12 companies in that time. Today, its clients include Circuit City Stores Inc., Best Buy Co. Inc., Net Zero, Major League Baseball, Yahoo!, NBC and Verizon Wireless. In November, it joined the Standard & Poor’s MidCap 400 and this month bought the private British company Shopping.Net for $13.3 million in cash. The move boosted its toehold in Europe, where in 2004 it purchased PriceRunner.com, a comparison-shopping search engine. But its most significant expansion came Dec. 5, when the company started offering a streaming video service to compliment existing banners for client advertisers. The new system for publishers and marketers will dovetail with ValueClick’s existing ad-serving platform and offers a variety of formats, such as video, rich media and standard display ads, the company said. The sector has seen a significant amount of activity with several small providers and the behemoth Google AdSense entering the fray over the past year. But ValueClick, helmed by CEO James R. Zarley since 1999, is seen as well-positioned because of its relationships with clients already under contract. It also has the technology the company estimates it could serve 100 million streams in the first month of operation. That could make the company, which ranked as No. 32 on Fortune’s list of fastest-growing companies, well positioned for 2007, said Eric Martinuzzi, an analyst for Craig-Hallum Capital. “They benefit from bigger attention,” he said, as do the rest of the online commerce sites this time year. “They will have a strong finish for the year-end.” The most hopeful sign: online shopping during December increased 25 percent compared to last year, with the industry raking in a whopping $15.6 billion, according to a study by ComScore Networks Inc. Amgen Awaits Decision A decision by a Congressional committee could translate into a major blow for the drug maker Amgen Inc. The House Ways and Means Committee is considering whether to reduce Medicare payments for drugs that treat anemia in kidney failure and bundle payments for the drugs and kidney dialysis, which the government currently pays separately. Amgen has a stake in the decision because its anemia drugs, Epogen and Aranesp, make up more than half of the company’s $12 billion annual revenue. Any change could cut into those profits. The committee earlier this month heard testimony about the cost and quality of care. Amgen contends the increased costs are the result of tougher standards and a larger and sicker dialysis patient population. Any change, the company said, “could result in harm to patients and cost Medicare more money.” In a note to investors after the testimony, analyst Geoffrey Porges said the change could hurt Amgen. “We see no way for this to be positively construed by Amgen,” he wrote. “There is significant risk to Amgen’s earnings from these hearings.” It is the latest issue for Amgen concerning its anemia drugs. The company is locked in a patent battle alleging Roche Holding AG violated Amgen’s patent when it developed an anemia drug called Cera. Briefly David Sambol, the president and CEO of Countrywide Financial Corp., has exercised for 14,000 shares of common stock under a prearranged trading plan. Sambol exercised the shares on Nov. 30 for $14.69 each, only to turn around and sell for $41.54 the same day, according to forms filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Van Nuys-based uWink Inc., the newly public operator of interactive video-game-oriented restaurants, is looking to add franchises. The brainchild of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese founder Nolan Bushnell, uWink opened its first location at Westfield Promenade earlier this year. The concept is a mix of video arcade, bar and restaurant using tabletop touch screen terminals. UWink went public this fall and is now looking to expand nationally, Bushnell said in a statement. “Since the opening of our beta restaurant last month, we have been inundated with requests from potential franchisees,” he said. “With the help of our customers, we’ve spent the last month refining the uWink experience so we can expand to a national level.” Finally, Cheesecake Factory Inc. is up to date with the Securities and Exchange Commission after a review of the Calabasas restaurant operator’s stock-option grants. The company filed its restated financials for the quarters ended July 4 and Oct. 3 and fiscal year ended Jan. 3. In a SEC filing, Cheesecake said the aggregate adjustments increased net income by $400,000 for fiscal year 2005 and cut net income by $1.2 million in fiscal 2004 and $1.6 million in fiscal 2003. The company also expanded its portfolio this month, adding locations in Boise, Idaho, and Buffalo, N.Y. Staff Reporter Chris Coates can be reached at (818) 316-3124 or at ccoates@sfvbj.com .

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