IAC Narrows Loss In Q1, Keeps Options Open

Thanks to an improving ad market, IAC/InteractiveCorp. reported overall revenue up 16% for the first quarter on Wednesday.

Beating analysts' forecasts, IAC's first-quarter loss narrowed to $18.7 million, or 16 cents a share, from $28.4 million, or 19 cents a share, year-over-year. The company said it had break-even adjusted results, compared with 2 cents a share a year ago.

Excluding the effects of a one-time charge related to an investment-related write-down, earnings in the first quarter were 14 cents, beating the average 7 cents a share forecast from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Revenue, meanwhile, totaled $385.9 million, beating expectations for $350 million in revenue.

Before posting a fourth-quarter loss in February, IAC had returned to profitability as it had completed the major restructuring. In 2008, the conglomerate split into five separate companies.

Today, IAC's Internet businesses include Ask.com, Match.com and ServiceMagic.

The company said Wednesday that revenue growth during the first quarter was driven by search, "benefiting from better macroeconomic conditions," and ServiceMagic, "resulting from increased marketing efforts."

Critics are not happy with the fact that IAC continues to sit on some $1.5 billion in cash and marketable securities, which they argue would be better spent advancing the company's interests through strategic acquisitions.

Company head Barry Diller, however, points to a lack of attractive acquisition targets.

Diller has also indicated in the past that IAC's struggling Ask.com search engine is no longer central to the company's core mission.

That said, the company said search queries have grown sequentially over the past six quarters. Dictionary.com reached the 10 million mobile download milestone, while active toolbars increased over 20% sequentially, and 65% year-over-year to 83 million.

CityGrid, meanwhile, added more than 150 new publishers since launching its developer center at the end of January, and added Dex One as a major reseller partner, bringing the total number of reseller partners to 10.

ServiceMagic grew domestic service providers 26% year-over-year, including the addition of service providers in new categories such as events and senior care.

Excluding the results of its sale of Match Europe, revenue and subscribers at Match grew 8% and 2%, respectively, with the increase in subscribers driven by growth in the domestic businesses, partially offset by declines in the international businesses.

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