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Jamba's narrows 4Q loss

EMERYVILLE, Calif. (AP) -- Jamba Inc. narrowed its fiscal fourth-quarter loss as lower costs helped offset relatively flat revenue for the fruit smoothie company.

The company, based in Emeryville, Calif., has been struggling with weaker sales and the costs of operating its namesake smoothie sites. As a result, it is shifting more of its stores to franchise operations, trying new store formats and branching into other related branded products, like fruit chips.

Jamba reported after the market closed Tuesday that it had a net loss of $7 million, or 9 cents per share, for the period that ended Jan. 1. That compares with a loss of $10.3 million, or 15 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of the prior year.

The company's total revenue was essentially flat at $44.2 million, with gains in its franchise and consumer products businesses.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected a loss of 10 cents per share on revenue of $45.6 million.

Jamba's revenue from stores open at least a year increased less than 1 percent. That is a key indicator of financial performance since it strips away the impact of recently opened or closed sites. Jamba opened 23 franchise-operated stores during the period and announced plans for adding up to 125 stores over the next several years, all in California.

Chairman, President and CEO James White said that the company achieved significant growth in fiscal 2012 and expects the momentum will continue in 2013. It was the first year the company posted a profit for the year since it went public in 2006.

Revenue from stores open at least a year rose 5.1 percent for the year.

Jamba said Tuesday that it expects the measure to improve by 4 to 6 percent in 2013. It also plans to open 60 to 80 stores and 1,000 of its JambaGo mobile smoothie sites.

The company currently has 774 stores in the U.S., of which 473 are franchise-operated stores. It has 35 international store locations, all of which are franchise-operated.

Jamba also said Tuesday that it reached a franchise development agreement with Casa Operadora de Franquicias MAV S.A.P.I de C.V to develop 80 Jamba Juice stores in Mexico over the next ten years. The first Jamba Juice store in Mexico is expected to open late this year.

Jamba fell 14 cents, or 5 percent, to $2.72 in after-hours trading. The stock closed regular trading up 9 cents amid a broader market rally.