Vonage reports narrower losses amid patent spat

Internet phone giant Vonage's net loss narrowed slightly to $72 million during the first quarter, a period sullied by a guilty verdict in a patent suit that threatened to prevent the company from signing up new customers, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the loss for the first three months of 2007, amounting to $0.47 per share, compared with a net loss of $85 million in the first quarter 2006.

The company had not yet sold its stock to the public during the year-ago quarter, so there were far fewer shares, and the per-share loss totaled $60.40, the Associated Press report added.

First-quarter revenue grew 64% to $196 million compared with the year-ago level of $120 million, the report said.

The report said the company's battered stock price rose after the report, which was stronger than analysts expected and included an encouraging update on possible workaround technologies to replace those that Vonage was found guilty of infringing in the suit brought by Verizon Communcications.

Vonage said that excluding the royalties it is required to set aside for potential payment to Verizon in the patent suit, the first-quarter loss would have shrunk to $61 million which was smaller than most Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Financial had estimated.

The subscriber base for Vonage's service, which connects phone calls over a high-speed Internet connection, grew by 166,000 customers to finish the quarter with nearly 2.4 million lines in service, the report further said.

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