Late bookings surge just the ticket for Lastminute

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The Independent Online

The internet company Lastminute.com turned out an underlying profit for the third quarter of the year and sounded a positive note for the final quarter yesterday, saying summer bookings had started "strongly".

Martha Lane Fox, one of the company's founders and its managing director, said Lastminute.com was benefiting from more people booking breaks at short notice as well as from growth in the online market in general.

"People are booking more and more last minute," she said, adding: "The online market is growing very rapidly and if you're not growing within it, you're doing something wrong."

The results and the continuing bid speculation surrounding the group was enough to lift the shares 35p to 246p, a three-year high.

Lastminute.com, which sells holidays, tickets and gifts on its website at short notice, turned out an underlying, or Ebitda, profit of £4.1m in the third quarter before accounting for exceptional items. That compares with a £1.9m loss in the same period a year before.

Ms Lane Fox said she and Brent Hoberman, the other founder and the company's chief executive, would still be as "hands-on" at the business as ever, despite naming Ian McCaig as chief operating officer.

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