Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) may have had some bright spots in its third-quarter earnings reports, but there are a few elements that some investors might not find too thrilling.

The massive media company, which also owns AOL, almost tripled its net income to $2.3 billion, or $0.57 per share. However, when adjusted for items like asset sales and tax benefits over the last year, earnings increased 12% to $0.19 per share. Revenues increased 7% to $10.9 billion.

The notable bright spot was Time Warner's cable division. Revenues there increased 44%, helped by Time Warner's acquisition of certain cable systems from Adelphia and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA). As helpful as these transactions were, however, they are part of the reason that Time Warner's net debt just about doubled to $32.2 billion. An $11 billion chunk of that debt increase is linked to share repurchases, which seems odd to me -- perhaps Time Warner management believes its stock is that undervalued, or that some catalyst is forthcoming, but I can't help but wonder if prudent shareholders can really feel comfortable with such a massive spike in debt. Compare that debt load with the fact that Time Warner's cash and cash equivalents dropped by 72% to $1.18 billion since the beginning of this year, too.

Another question on everybody's minds is how AOL's evolution service is progressing. There's a mixed message there, too. The good news is, ad revenues at AOL increased an impressive 46%, leading some to think that AOL is stealing some ad business from another Internet giant, Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO). And as promised in recent communications about AOL's new business model, costs decreased due to lower marketing expenses (now that it's free, the company doesn't have to pay so much to try to lure subscribers into the fold).

On the other hand, AOL revenues still dropped 3%, and of course, AOL subscriber count fell 5% year over year, none of which is a surprise since Time Warner has converted AOL to a free advertising-based model. When I covered AOL in our Fool on the Street series in September, though, it was clear that AOL's new Internet strategy is still in its beginning stages. I wouldn't say that preliminary successes for AOL's free portal are any guarantee of future success with fickle Internet users who have so many other options, but of course it remains to be seen (and AOL does have some good content brands through parent Time Warner).

Glancing at Time Warner's other segments, consider the fact that revenues for its networks segment increased 4%, but not all segments fared so well. Film segment revenues dropped 10%; Superman Returns may have been a solid performer, but it was no match for the tough comparisons to this time last year, when there were several strong performers: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Batman Begins, and Wedding Crashers. Meanwhile, revenues for the company's publishing segment increased a mere 1%.

Much has been made of the fact that Time Warner shares have recently broken the $20 mark for the first time in four years (and of course, it's good news for Motley Fool Stock Advisor subscribers who have Time Warner shares from David Gardner's recommendation in 2002, since the shares have appreciated 52% since then). However, I still see plenty of reasons for reluctance to grab a stake in Time Warner at the moment. There are obviously some bright spots, but then again, when you consider AOL; the fact that the publishing, movie, and television industries are under pressure with a lot of disruptive influences afoot; and Time Warner's history of old-school thinking, there's still a lot of uncertainty.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, she was ranked 3,308 out of 11,987 in CAPS.