UPDATE 3-IAC results beat forecasts on search revenue

Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:52pm EDT

* Q1 adj share $0.14 vs Wall Street view $0.07

* Q1 revenue rises 16 pct to $385.9 mln

* Search queries up sequentially over past six quarters

* Shares fall 1.6 percent (Adds executive comments)

By Paul Thomasch

NEW YORK, April 28 (Reuters) - Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI.O) reported stronger-than-expected quarterly results, including a 16 percent rise in revenue, as its Ask.com Web search business gained in popularity.

The results come amid questions over whether Diller, the company's controlling shareholder, will return to dealmaking, either by selling Ask.com or buying other Web-based companies.

Diller largely avoided the issue of deals during a call with analysts on Wednesday, other than to say he did not foresee any sizable acquisitions on the horizon.

Instead, executives focused on first-quarter results that beat expectations, including a particularly strong quarter from the company's search business.

Search queries have risen sequentially in the past six quarters, and in the latest quarter search advertising revenue was up 20 percent from a year earlier.

But executives said 20 percent revenue gains were "not the new normal" and would not be repeated in the second quarter.

That helped take the steam out of a stock that had traded 3 percent higher earlier in the day. By late afternoon, the shares were down 1.6 percent at $22.79.

Diller has made it clear that Ask.com is not central to the IAC's future, and late last year he said he had been approached by parties interested in buying the website.

Discussions have also taken place with AOL Inc (AOL.N) about a possible partnership.

Ask.com is the fourth-ranked search engine in a highly competitive market, trailing Google Inc (GOOG.O), Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O).

Overall revenue surpassed forecasts in the latest quarter, rising to $385.9 million from $332 million a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had forecast revenue of $350.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Adjusted earnings of 14 cents per share, excluding items such as a writedown on IAC's investment in The HealthCentral Network, also beat the 7 cents analysts had expected.

IAC, which also owns dating site Match.com and local site Citysearch, reported a quarterly loss of $18.7 million, or 16 cents per share, compared with a loss of $28.4 million, or 19 cents a share, a year ago.

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch, editing by Maureen Bavdek and Ted Kerr)

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