IAC profit rises on Ticketmaster, Web search ads

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NEW YORK -- Internet conglomerate IAC/InterActiveCorp. said on Thursday quarterly profit rose with growth for box office service Ticketmaster and Web search advertising, but its shares fell 3% on further weakness at its retail and lending units.

Barry Diller's IAC is home to more than 60 Internet brands including online mortgage broker LendingTree, as well as television shopping network HSN.

"We are incrementally more concerned about HSN and Lending as both came in below expectations, but we are encouraged by both Ticketing and Media & Advertising," Goldman Sachs analyst Anthony Noto wrote in a note to clients. "Results could modestly pressure the stock given the profitability shortfall."

IAC first-quarter net profit rose to $62.1 million, or 20 cents per share, from $47.2 million, or 14 cents per share, a year ago. Earnings before special items rose to 33 cents a share from 30 cents.

Revenue increased 10% to $1.6 billion.

The results were in line with Wall Street expectations for earnings per share of 33 cents, before special items, and came in slightly higher than an average analysts' forecast for revenue of $1.57 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company said its retail business, the largest segment by revenue and home to HSN, posted a 2% rise in revenue to $787.6 million. But operating income for the segment fell 11% with higher expenses and inventory reserves.

A 26% rise in revenue at Ticketmaster helped offset declines at LendingTree, which is contending with a weakened U.S. mortgage market. Ticketmaster benefited from record worldwide ticket sales and such concerts as tours by The Police and country singer Kenny Chesney, the company said.

Media and advertising results, including the company's Ask.com Web search properties, also contributed to growth with a 43% rise in revenue.

The segment posted an operating profit of $10.5 million compared with a year-ago loss of $6.4 million.

IAC shares slipped $1.29 to $37.30 in morning trading on the Nasdaq.

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