(Updates with closing share price in fifth paragraph.)
Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- IAC/InterActiveCorp, the operator of websites including Match.com and Ask.com, reported fourth- quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates as search traffic increased and online dating won more users. The stock climbed.
Earnings, excluding some items, rose to 70 cents a share, the company said today. Analysts predicted 54 cents, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales gained 32 percent to $596.9 million, exceeding the $565.7 million analysts projected.
Barry Diller, billionaire chairman of the company which operates more than 50 websites, is building digital content and service-oriented businesses as he expands New York-based IAC. Revenue at its search-engine business, which includes Ask.com and Mindspark, rose 35 percent to $319.5 million.
“Everyone remains gaga over Google, but in fact IACI has the fastest-growing search business,” said Sandy Mehta, an analyst at Hong Kong-based Value Investment Principals Ltd., which holds stock in the company. “There appears to be no slowing down.”
IAC rose 6.3 percent to $45.78 at the close in New York. The shares gained 48 percent last year.
At Match, IAC’s online-dating unit, revenue gained 46 percent on a 51 percent jump in paid subscribers. In December 2010, IAC named Greg Blatt, head of the Match business, as chief executive officer.
Net income fell 44 percent to $48.8 million, or 53 cents a share, from $87 million, or 90 cents, a year earlier, when profit was boosted by one-time gains. IAC said it will pay a quarterly dividend of 12 cents a share on March 1.
IAC made accounting mistakes with a deferred income tax liability in 2002 and corrected some financial statements, according to a regulatory filing from the company today. The errors didn’t affect earnings.
--Editors: Ville Heiskanen, John Lear
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