May 15, 2007, 12:00 AM

BabyUniverse Q1 sales lag 2006 as merger with eToys grinds ahead

BabyUniverse reported net sales for Q1 2007 of $8.5 million, down 11% from $9.5 million in Q1 2006. Meanwhile, the company’s first quarter rollout of BabyTV.com, its new media platform, has “met or exceeded our expectations," CEO John Textor says.

BabyUniverse Inc. reported sales were down 11% in the first quarter ended March 31 to $8.5 million from $9.5 million in the same quarter a year ago.

The company, which operates seven e-commerce sites for parents ranging from pregnancy to baby and toddler clothing and accessories, reported a net loss for Q1 2007 of $1.74 million compared to a net loss of $1.97 million for the first quarter of 2006. Web sites include BabyUniverse.com, DreamTimeBaby.com and PoshTots.com.

The previously announced merger with eToys Inc. is progressing and still expected to close in the third quarter of 2007. “As outlined in our recent fourth quarter earnings call, our overall business as related to revenue generation and cost savings initiatives effectively remains in a holding pattern pending the completion of the merger with eToys,” says John Textor, chairman and CEO of BabyUniverse, which is No. 207 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

On the positive side, the company’s first quarter rollout of BabyTV.com, its new media platform, has “met or exceeded our expectations related to new visitor growth, low-cost content acquisition, acceptance by strategic partners and advertisers and overall market visibility,” Textor says.

Unique visitors to BabyTV.com increased from 4,790 in January to the current rate of more than 160,000 monthly unique visitors, the company says. Programming viewership has climbed from 12,293 video streams in January to a current rate of more than 180,000 per month. Average length of visit per viewer has increased from 2.8 minutes in January to 6.6 minutes.

Georgianne Brown, president of mainstream e-commerce at BabyUniverse, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 4-7 in San Jose, in a session titled Blending Video and E-Commerce.

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