IAC posts higher 3rd-qtr profit

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NEW YORK -- IAC/InterActiveCorp., the Internet conglomerate run by Barry Diller, said Tuesday that third-quarter profit rose, helped by higher operating income from its retail segment and strong revenue growth from its Ticketmaster business.

Growth for IAC's online search and dating services also helped boost results past analyst expectations, offsetting a weak performance at its key Home Shopping Network and declines for its LendingTree.com mortgage business.

Shares of the company rose 76 cents, or 2.6%, to $30.58 in midday trading on the Nasdaq after its results.

Net income available to common shareholders rose to $74.9 million, or 24 cents per share, from $68.1 million, or 20 cents per share, a year ago. Adjusted earnings per share, excluding special items, was 35 cents, compared with 32 cents a year ago, the company said.

Revenue rose to $1.6 billion from $1.44 billion a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, looked for earnings of 33 cents per share before special items on revenue of $1.61 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

Asked whether IAC would look at any other big acquisitions to expand to new areas, Diller said "we don't see any, so to speak, holes" in the company.

"We see all sorts of opportunities in businesses we're in for add-ons," he said on a conference call. "We've de-accentuated big ticket mergers and acquisitions. We've been much more concentrated on the consistency of our operations."

Diller also said he had little interest in taking the company private, a hot topic on Wall Street for media companies who are reorganizing to cope with growing competition from the Internet and other new media.

"We've had everybody knock on our door or, so to speak, at least the usual suspects," he said. "I just do not think it's something we'd pursue. I'm just not interested in it. At IAC, we are comfortable in our public company status."

Revenue at HSN was flat for the quarter, but operating income at the company's retail segment grew 31%.

Mortgage lending revenue dropped 3%, reflecting a slower U.S. real estate market. By contrast, ticketing revenue rose 17% while call center services grew 21%, the company said.

IAC's search and media business, which includes Ask.com and Citysearch, saw revenue rise 34%, powered by its results in the United States. Results for Ask.com in Britain were weak by comparison, the company said.

The company also said its board of directors authorized the buyback of another 60 million shares.
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