It's a shame because this past quarter is a ringing endorsement for the ability to single out your favorite flavor. As a whole, the showing is ho-hum. Revenue inched 8% higher to $1.6 billion. Earnings fell 13%, or down to $0.18 a share on a per-share basis. On an adjusted basis, earnings would have been essentially flat, dipping to $0.30 a share from last year's $0.31-a-share showing. The results were in line with Wall Street's expectations. (Review IAC's fourth-quarter showing.)
However, the different moving parts that make up IAC aren't the same ho-hummery you see in the end results. It's a heated tug-of-war taking place. LendingTree is naturally anchoring the south-tugging team. Revenue there fell a sharp 38%, but what do you expect when the heart of your model is delivering leads to lenders who are curling up in fetal positions and sucking their thumbs?
Pulling IAC the other way are double-digit top-line gains at the company's ticketing, online, and vacation travel arms. The fifth subsidiary -- retail -- is the only one befitting the overall stagnation, with gains at HSN partly offset by a slowdown in the company's catalog business.
You won't get much of an argument in favor of keeping IAC intact. Liberty Media Interactive
If there were any other antisplit fan club members, this morning's report should be enough to dry up the rolls on that cheering section. It's time to let IAC play. Let IAC's Ticketmaster take on Live Nation
Finally, let the remaining IAC -- the online arm that watches over sites like Ask.com and dating site Match.com -- be free to take on the big boys like Google
Investors deserve that much. Nobody wants to go to an ice cream parlor that forces you to eat five flavors that have proven that they don't belong on the same spoonful.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no problem with niche-specific search engines that bring something new to the table. He is a freelance contributor to IAC's Citysearch, but does not have a financial stake in IAC or in any other company in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.