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Traditionally a loss-making period because of the seasonal nature of auctions, there is good news on the costs front, down from $87m last year to $76.6m this. However, restructuring costs involving redundancy payments, and retention costs in areas such as directors’ bonuses, have kept extraordinary costs up despite the recovery from the earlier expense of anti-trust compensation, and this in turn has had an effect on the net loss for the period.

Chief executive William Ruprecht was upbeat about the results, though, saying that the company had performed “substantially better” than their plan. “We expect that 2002 will bring us back to profitability on the operating income line, especially as the economy recovers from last year’s downturn,” he said.

Internet totals were down 25 per cent, from $11.9m to $8.9m, though costs for the service have dropped and Mr Ruprecht expects the comparatively new deal with eBay to pay dividends in terms of cutting costs further and increasing activity throughout the year.

SOTHEBY’S FIRST QUARTER RESULTS
2002

Total revenues: $45.4m

Net income: –$23.1m

Net income excluding
extraordinary costs* –$13.8m

2001

Total revenues: $57.5m

Net income: –$22.5m

Net income excluding
extraordinary costs* –$18m


*Extraordinary costs relate to employee retention,
company restructuring and special charges.