CHICAGO — Online travel agent Orbitz Inc. reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $14.6 million Tuesday in its first financial results as a public company, but it said revenue and bookings rose sharply, enabling it to achieve operating profitability for 2003.

The Internet travel company, which is backed by the five biggest U.S. airlines, said revenue from air reservations jumped 19 percent for the year and hotel and other bookings represented a growing share of its business.

The loss for the last three months of 2003 amounted to 40 cents per share, compared to net income a year earlier of $3.8 million, or 10 cents per share. Results included $26.5 million in charges for a 2002 restructuring of its stock options as recorded following its initial public offering in December.

Not counting those charges, Orbitz said it would have posted income of $11.9 million, or 30 cents per share. That is considerably better than Wall Street analysts expected, although so few actively follow the small company that estimates are not considered reliable.

Revenues for the quarter climbed 35 percent to $69.7 million from $51.5 million a year earlier, while gross travel bookings rose 34 percent to $926.5 million.

Orbitz chairman and CEO Jeff Katz called it "a strong quarter and year," despite the company still failing to achieve a net profit, citing the gains in revenue and bookings and strong growth in its fledgling merchant hotel business.

"Excluding the non-cash charge — which we think is the best way to evaluate our performance — Orbitz has become solidly profitable, with net income in each of the last two quarters and strong cash flow from operations in each of the last five quarters," Katz said. "We plan to build on our momentum by improving our merchant hotel offering, dynamic packaging product and corporate travel business."

The company was formed by United, American, Delta, Continental and Northwest airlines and has been the third-largest travel online site behind Travelocity and Expedia since shortly after it began selling tickets to the public in June 2001.