When AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) released its earnings report this morning, the headline on the announcement boasted that for the first time in eight years the company posted yearly revenue growth. That is something to print T-shirts for?
For the fourth quarter, AOL reported diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.41 on revenues of $599.5 million. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.23 on revenues of $576.8 million. Fourth-quarter results compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for an EPS of $0.41 and $573.7 million in revenues.
For the full year, the Internet services company reported EPS of $11.21 on revenues of $2.19 billion, compared with a consensus call for EPS of $11.17 on revenues of $2.17 billion.
The company’s CEO said:
AOL has strong momentum entering 2013 and is positioned to continue on our growth path by executing our strategy to build the next generation media and technology company.
The company’s global advertising revenue grew by 13% in the fourth quarter and 8% year-over-year in 2012. The largest part of that came in third-party revenue, which grew by 31% in the quarter and 23% year-over-year. AOL’s traffic acquisition costs (TAC) also rose, up 29% in the quarter, but the company noted that the “increase in revenues net of TAC was a significant driver in the improvement … versus the prior year period.” Now that AOL’s ad revenues are delivering growth, it will be important to watch how the company’s TAC moves.
We’ll have to wait for the conference call for any guidance, but the consensus estimate for the current quarter calls for EPS of $0.37 on revenues of $531.83 million. For the full year, the estimate for EPS is $1.46 on revenues of $2.17 billion.
AOL’s shares closed at $31.41 yesterday, then traded higher by nearly 2% after hours last night. Premarket trading has not begun yet this morning. The stock’s 52-week range is $16.80 to $43.93. The consensus target price for the shares was around $39.30 before today’s report.