I must admit that, the more I know about Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), the more conflicted I become about the company. On the one hand, it is -- or owns most of -- the second-largest cable company in the nation, and cable continues to distance itself from its competition and to report stellar results. And the company's AOL dial-up unit, which last year moved to a free subscription model, is growing its advertising revenues nicely.

But on the other hand, the earnings contributions from the film and programming units tend to bounce around like so many corks in a storm, and its magazine publishing operation is not immune to the woes affecting most publishers. Add to this mix my predilection to be a management freak -- and my increasingly positive assessment of CEO Dick Parsons and his team -- and you generally have the roots of my conflict. That conflict was only exacerbated by the release of the company's first-quarter results.

For the quarter, Time Warner's earnings fell to $1.2 billion, or $0.31 a share, from $1.5 billion, and $0.32 per share a year ago. Revenues were up 9% to $11.2 billion in the quarter.

But it was the relative strengths of the units that reignited my investor confusion. Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), 16% of which was taken public two months ago, generated net profit of $276 million on strong revenues from the continued success of its triple play package. Like Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Cablevision (NYSE:CVC), among the publicly held cable operators, Time Warner Cable continues to benefit from its bundled offerings of video, data, and telephony.

And Time Warner reported advertising gains at AOL. However, the film unit -- comprised of Warner Bros. and New Line -- was not so strong, although management expects an improved second half. Similarly, publishing's contribution dipped in the quarter, due in part to restructuring charges.

So if you share my conflicted feelings about Time Warner, here's a suggested solution: Buy the cable company and forget about the other operations. Oh sure, you'll miss out on any continued improvement in AOL, and if the film folks do turn things around later in the year, you'll miss that too. But I'd argue that you'll be buying a much cleaner and more proven entity, one without the traditional cyclical fluctuations inherent in the other stuff.

Now that feels better. Goodbye, conflict.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your questions or comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy.