Zillow reports surprise profit as paid users increase

Reuters

(Adds details from conference call, updates shares)

May 7 (Reuters) - Real estate website operator Zillow Inc reported a surprise quarterly profit as more people signed up to rent, sell or mortgage properties, and forecast higher-than-expected revenue in the current quarter.

Zillow shares rose 6 percent to $99.59 in after-market trading on Wednesday.

The company, which gets most of its revenue from subscriptions to its website from real estate agents, said premier agent subscribers rose 56 percent to 52,968 for the first quarter ended March 31.

Traffic from mobile devices more than doubled from a year ago, accounting for about two-thirds of total visits to the website, Zillow said.

Zillow, the most-visited real estate websites in the United States, lists properties for sale or rent on behalf of homeowners and real estate agents.

The Zillow-Yahoo real estate network recorded about 53 million unique visitors in March, a 13 percent rise since January, according to comScore. The number of visitors were almost double than nearest rival Trulia Inc's network.

Zillow started a partnership with Yahoo Inc in 2010 to boost its online presence.

The company spent $34.9 million on advertising in the quarter, up from $19.8 million a year earlier.

The company had said in February it would spend $36 million-$37 million on advertising in the quarter.

Net loss widened to $6.3 million, or 16 cents per share, from $3.7 million, or 11 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 2 cents per share.

Revenue jumped 70 percent to $66.2 million.

Analysts on average expected a loss of 8 cents per share on revenue of $63.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Zillow forecast second-quarter revenue of $75.5 million-$76.5 million in a post-earnings conference call.

Analysts were expecting a loss of 5 cents per share on revenue of $71.8 million.

(Reporting by Sampad Patnaik in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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