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WebMD shares rise on 4Q revenue and 2013 forecast

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of WebMD Health Corp. jumped in after-hours trading Thursday after the health website operator reported better-than-expected revenue in the fourth quarter and gave an optimistic sales outlook for 2013.

WebMD, which announced in December that it would eliminate about 250 jobs, posted a loss, as expected. Revenue fell 12 percent as competition from social networks and ad networks remained fierce and drug company advertisers were cautious with their spending. While WebMD thinks its revenue will fall further in 2013, it forecast a smaller decline than Wall Street expected.

Shares of WebMD rose $2.23, or 13.7 percent, to $18.53 in aftermarket trading.

WebMD lost $6.1 million, or 12 cents per share. In the fourth quarter of 2011 the company reported net income of $19.2 million, or 33 cents per share. During the recent quarter WebMD had $5.5 million in restructuring costs. Excluding those and other one-time items, the company said it earned 8 cents per share.

Revenue fell 12 percent, to $132.7 million.

Analysts expected WebMD to report an adjusted profit of 14 cents per share on $124.2 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

WebMD said revenue from public portal ads and sponsorship fell 14 percent to $112.3 million. However it said it had 117.4 million unique visitors during the quarter, up 28 percent from a year ago, and total page views rose 20 percent to 2.57 billion.

In 2012 WebMD lost $20.3 million, or 40 cents per share. Net income was $74.6 million, or $1.25 per share, in 2011. Revenue in 2012 fell 16 percent, to $469.9 million.

In 2013 WebMD expects a loss of 13 to 45 cents per share from continuing operations with revenue between $430 million and $455 million, down 3 to 8 percent from 2012.

Analysts expect 2013 net income of 25 cents per share and $416.9 million in revenue.

WebMD said revenue will be at least $105 million in the first quarter, and it will take a net loss equal to about 6 percent of its revenue. That implies a loss of at least $6.3 million

Analysts expect the company to lose $11.7 million on $92.8 million in revenue.