Retail Unit Roughs Up IAC/Interactivehttp://tinyurl.com/2b8ogbThe New York-based online media company posted an 85% drop in fourth-quarter earnings due to a $214 million write-down the company took on its discounts business. It earned $17 million, or a nickel a share, down from the year-ago $113 million, or 33 cents a share.Revenue rose 8% from a year ago to $1.82 billion.On an adjusted basis, excluding all manner of costs, earnings rose to 67 cents a share from 50 cents a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for a 53-cents-a-share profit on sales of $1.88 billion.Still, revenue growth in IAC's retail division continues to be lackluster as the conglomerate works on finding ways to jump-start its struggling HSN television shopping division. While retail revenue accounts for 54% of IAC's overall revenue, it grew only 4% from a year earlier. Operating income before amortization, meanwhile, slipped 12%. Though the results are not dramatic, a new management team that IAC installed in the division is continuing a turnaround, the company said. "At HSN, we continue to make progress against initiatives in December," IAC President Doug Lebda said in a conference call for investors. "We don't expect it to change overnight, but we are gaining speed in the unique art of TV shopping."...But IAC was much more upbeat when talking about the progress of Ask.com, the company's search engine. Ask.com grew its market share in 11 out of the 12 months ending in December, and the two new search features it rolled out over the quarter are "indicative of the type of innovation you will see with us," Legba said...."We have a very good partnership with Google, but there are other options now and we want to play this sensibly," Diller said, adding that IAC now accounts for 10% of Google's ad syndication business. "That brings a lot of traffic and a lot of queries. We are a great client to have."Diller said that IAC is still eyeing acquisitions and continues to talk to candidates, with potential deal sizes ranging from between $10 million to $300 million. "Some will come through during the next year," Diller said.
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