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UPDATE 6-IAC profit beats, will pay first regular dividend
November 3, 2011 / 11:46 AM / in 6 years

UPDATE 6-IAC profit beats, will pay first regular dividend

* Adjusted EPS 56 cents vs. Street view 49 cents

* Revenue rises 25 percent to $516.9 million

* Declares regular dividend of 12 cents

* Shares rise 5 pct

By Yinka Adegoke and Jennifer Saba

Nov 3 (Reuters) - Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp reported a higher-than-expected third-quarter profit and said it would pay its first regular dividend.

Shares of the Internet holding company, parent of dating sites Match.com and Meetic, search engine Ask.com and media site CollegeHumor, closed up 5 percent on Thursday.

IAC’s net income rose to $65 million, or 69 cents per share, from $17.5 million, or 16 cents per share, a year ago.

On an adjusted basis, profit was 56 cents per share, beating the average Wall Street forecast of 49 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 25 percent to $516.9 million in the three months ended Sept. 30.

IAC, which had a cash pile of $865 million at the end of the quarter, said it would pay a quarterly cash dividend of 12 cents per share, amounting to about $9.8 million.

“I think it’s an outdated and somewhat inane concept that high-growth companies shouldn’t pay dividends,” Diller, IAC’s chairman, said in a statement.

The company plans to maintain a minimum of $500 million of cash, Diller said during a call with analysts.

“Investors have increased comfort the company is not going to go out and use the cash for a big splashy acquisition,” said BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis.

“The businesses may not be the sexiest businesses out there, they fit into Internet 1.0, but they throw off cash,” Gillis said.

Diller, the colorful media mogul who ran Paramount Pictures and later Rupert Murdoch’s Fox, is known for green-lighting hit movies like “Saturday Night Fever” and commissioning “The Simpsons.”

He stepped down as IAC’s chief executive late last year though he still serves as its chairman.

A consummate dealmaker, Diller was also instrumental in forming a 50-50 joint venture with Newsweek, owned by the late Sidney Harman, and IAC’s Daily Beast website founded by Tina Brown.

When the partnership took shape at the end of January, IAC started accounting for the Newsweek/Daily Beast Co as an equity investment.

For the third quarter, the company reported equity in losses of $15 million, which includes Newsweek/Daily Beast, an $11.7 million loss related to the markdown of its original Meetic stake, and other equity investments.

Coupled with the dividend, IAC has been buying back its shares -- 42 percent over the last three years.

And even with the dividend, IAC is still in a position to go shopping.

“We have plenty of resources to buy back stock and to make any acquisitions we think we would be rational,” Diller said on the call.

Credit Suisse analyst John Blackledge welcomed the dividend announcement as another shareholder-friendly capital allocation decision by IAC.

“...Though the dividend yield at 1.2 percent is modest vs. 2 percent average dividend yield for S&P 500, it is a solid start,” he wrote in a client note.

IAC shares closed at $41.56.

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