Have you seen my Barry Diller costume?
I'm sure I saw it somewhere. It's slick, custom-tailored, and comes with more (dot-com) properties than a Monopoly board.
There are more treats than tricks in IAC/InterActiveCorp's (Nasdaq: IACI ) bag of companies this morning. Diller's collection of prolific websites and retail units came through with a respectable showing this quarter. Revenue climbed by 7% to $1.5 billion. Earnings fell by 4%, although it breaks out to a flat $0.24 on a per-share basis after some timely share repurchases. On an adjusted basis, earnings per share climbed 6% to $0.37 a share. Wall Street was looking for a per-share profit of only $0.34 on that basis.
What's that? You don't like my costume? You think it's not complete without a paper bag over my head, because a dot-com company should be growing a lot faster than these single-digit-percentage baby steps?
You don't get it. We knew that some of IAC's properties were going to get slammed during the period. Lending Tree? Who the heck sees lender lead-generating as a growth business as we wade through the subprime squalor? True to form, Lending Tree suffered a 41% dip on the top line. Last year's healthy operating profit disintegrated into a small operating loss.
IAC also had expected weakness at its RealEstate.com brokerage business. Web-based players like IAC and ZipRealty (Nasdaq: ZIPR ) are holding up better than conventional realty brokers, but gobbling market share amounts to carving out thicker slices of diminishing pies in this housing funk.
IAC also closed its America's Store concept back in April, holding back the company's retail side, which would have taken a hit anyway given shrinking margins at HSN.
With all of those sandbags, taking baby steps forward is a relative victory.
The real star this quarter was the company's online media properties. Fueled by the success of Ask.com and Citysearch, revenue and operating profits before amortization hits in that segment grew by 40% and 74%, respectively.
Ask.com is a distant fourth in the domestic search engine space, but there's no shame in missing out on a medal as it sees Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) , and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) step up on their raised platforms. Even a thin slice of this high-margin market is plenty for a company like IAC.
So what are you waiting for? Help me find that darn costume already!
Try these outfits on for size: