IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI:US), the operator of websites such as Match.com and Ask.com, rose the most in three months after traffic to its online-dating and Internet-query services helped first-quarter profit top analysts’ estimates.
Excluding some items, earnings rose to 51 cents a share, the New York-based company said today in a statement, beating the 46-cent average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales climbed 39 percent to $640.6 million, exceeding the $594.1 million projection.
Barry Diller, the billionaire chairman and founder of the company, is adding digital content and services to IAC, which operates more than 50 websites. At Match, IAC’s online-dating unit, revenue increased 56 percent to $174.3 million -- fueled by a 47 percent jump in paid subscribers and the consolidation of European site Meetic. In December 2010, IAC named Greg Blatt, head of the Match business, as chief executive officer.
“What is most impressive about IAC over the past two years has been the consistent across-the-board strength in operations,” said Sandy Mehta, CEO at Hong Kong-based Value Investment Principals Ltd., an advisory firm that holds stock in the company. “Very few companies in the world have returned so much capital, free cash flow, to investors.”
The shares rose (IACI:US) 7.9 percent to $52.58 at 9:58 a.m. in New York. The shares had advanced 14 percent this year through yesterday, following a gain of 48 percent in 2011.
Net income jumped 91 percent to $34.5 million, or 38 cents a share, from $18.1 million, or 19 cents, a year earlier. Revenue at its search-engine business, which includes Ask.com, Mindspark and Dictionary.com, rose 47 percent to $343.2 million.
IAC also said it will pay a quarterly dividend of 12 cents a share on June 1, and the board yesterday authorized the repurchase of another 10 million shares. The company bought back 5.1 million shares between Jan. 28 and April 27.
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