UPDATE 1-WebMD sees strong year ahead, shares rise

Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:54pm EST

* Sees FY rev at $430 mln - $455 mln, vs est $422.1 mln

* Fourth-quarter rev at $132.7 mln vs est $124.1 mln

* Fourth-quarter ad revenue down 14 pct at $112.3 mln

* Quarterly traffic up 20 pct

* Shares up 14 pct after market

Feb 21 (Reuters) - WebMD Health Corp's fourth-quarter revenue fell less than expected and the health information website forecast 2013 results above analyst's estimates, sending its shares up about 14 percent in extended trading.

The company, which has been struggling with falling advertising revenue, said it expects to incur a per-share loss of 13 to 45 cents from continuing operations this year. Analysts are looking for a loss of 44 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"Our guidance reflects anticipated savings we expect to achieve in 2013 from restructuring actions initiated in the fourth quarter," Chief financial officer Tony Vuolo said on a conference call with analysts. The company in December said it would cut about 250 jobs, or 14 percent of its workforce.

At $430 million to $455 million, the health information provider's revenue forecast for 2013 was also well above the average analyst estimate of $422.1 million.

WebMD's earnings have been hit as consumers use its websites for specific information only without surfing the other content on the site.

Ad revenue fell 14 percent to $112.3 million in the fourth quarter, leading to a 12 percent decline in overall revenue to $132.7 million.

Vuolo said WebMD's biopharmaceutical customers were dealing with the impact of patent expirations, launch delays and budget cuts, which was affecting their spending on the company's core offerings.

However, the fall in revenue was less than expected as analysts had anticipated fourth-quarter revenue of $124.1 million.

Total traffic to WebMD's websites rose 20 percent to 2.57 billion pages during the quarter and unique users per month increased 28 percent, the company said.

About 30 percent of the traffic came from mobile users.

WebMD took a charge of $7.6 million related to restructuring in the fourth quarter. The company does not expect any restructuring charges in the first quarter.

Net loss in the fourth quarter was $6.1 million, or 12 cents per share, compared to net income of $19.2 million, or 33 cents per share, a year earlier.