AOL’s Q1 tops expectations by a penny

America Online Inc. reported first-quarter results on Wednesday that hit the predicted mark of US$2 billion in revenues for the past three months.

The quarter’s net-income, fully taxed and excluding one-time items, totaled $350 million or 14 cents per diluted share. Twenty-eight analysts had forecast earnings of 13 cents per diluted share for the quarter, according to First Call/Thomson Financial.

The figures compare to net income before unusual items of $182 million, or 7 cents per diluted share, in the same quarter a year ago, AOL said.

Including unusual items, reported net income for the quarter was $345 million, or 13 cents per diluted share, up from $181 million, or 7 cents per diluted share, a year ago.

Revenue, meanwhile, rose 34 percent to $2 billion from $1.5 billion during last year’s first quarter. Analysts also expected revenues of $2 billion for the first quarter, according to First Call.

Advertising, commerce and other revenues reached $649 million, rising 80 percent over the same time last year.

AOL said it grabbed 1.4 million new subscribers for the quarter and now has 24.6 million members. About 900,000 of those new subscribers were in the U.S., while the remainder were from other countries that AOL serves.

Advertising, commerce and other revenues reached $649 million, rising 80 percent over the same time last year. AOL saw its advertising revenue rise from $360 million the same time last year.

“There has been a lot of swirl about online advertising,” said Steve Case, AOL’s chairman and chief executive officer, during a teleconference for analysts. ” We are right on target and so is Time Warner (Inc.)”

Bob Pittman, AOL’s president and chief operating officer, reinforced Case’s comments.

“For this company, I don’t see (it) and I don’t buy it,” he said.

Case said the AOL-Time Warner merger is progressing and is on target to close by the end of the year. U.S. federal regulators, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Federal Communications Commission, are currently reviewing the merger. The estimated $113 billion marriage gained the conditional approval of the European Commission a week ago.

AOL will introduce its latest software, AOL 6.0, to get subscribers online next month. And the Dulles, Virginia-based company will launch AOLTV, its interactive TV offering, in about two weeks.

AOL’s shares on Wednesday closed up 7.59 percent, or $3.31, to $46.91.

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