Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

An Upbeat Q2 for AOL

Here’s why Tim Armstrong felt confident enough to hang out at Michael’s last week: AOL just posted a not-shabby Q2.

The company just posted earnings of $10.17 per share and revenue of $531 million. Wall Street was looking for 10 cents and $519 million. The earnings number is inflated by AOL’s giant patent sale, but when you strip that out, you end up with 23 cents per share — a big ol’ beat.

But AOL’s underlying numbers look okay, too. Its crucial domestic ad display sales were flat, which is not good compared to Web peers like Google and Yahoo, but an improvement from last quarter’s declines. And it’s also better than AOL had predicted three months ago.

Another good sign for Armstrong is that AOL’s traffic is getting better — which by AOL’s standards means it is shrinking less. Visitors to the sites AOL owns were down 1 percent over the last year, but that’s a smaller decrease than previous quarters. Good thing, given that Armstrong spent a pile of money on sites like TechCrunch and the Huffington Post.

We’ll get more color after Armstrong’s conference call this morning; I’ll check back in after that.

Update: Not much to report in the way of additional data points from the call. Armstrong talked up Patch, his much-maligned local bet, and reiterated previous predictions that the unit would hit revenue of $40 million to $50 million this year. One subjective observation, though: Armstrong has often sounded defensive on these calls — most distressingly, he’s complained about negative press coverage more than once on these things — but not today. Quite relaxed, and happy to stick around and chat up analysts, even after the call stretched past the one-hour mark.


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