Summary:

AOL continues its surprising turnaround with another quarter of growth in its content and advertising segment. The company is still, however, depending on its legacy business for all its profit.

Aol Video Logo

AOL’s latest quarterly earnings, posted early Wednesday morning, showed ongoing growth in its content and advertising business as the company posted a 2% gain in revenue from a year ago and earnings per share of $0.32.

The profit was at the low end of the average of $0.32 – $0.34 that analysts had been predicting, while AOL’s $538.3 million in revenue was slightly above expectations.

Update: the market does not like the EPS. AOL share prices are off more than 10% this morning.

Overall, the numbers reflect an ongoing turnaround at AOL, which for years had been depending on its legacy dial-up subscription business for profit as its content and advertising business struggled. In March, CEO Tim Armstrong said recent results validated the company’s focus on content.

The most encouraging sign for the company may be a 14% growth in revenue in its so-called brand group, which consists of its in-house media properties like the Huffington Post, AOL.com and TechCrunch. AOL networks, which represent its third-party advertising service, was also up 8%.

The biggest question for the company remains profit where the company continues to depend on its shrinking legacy business to pay the bills. Both the ad networks and brand group continue to lose money, in part because sites like Patch.com continue to be a drag on earnings. This is reflected in the following screenshot, showing revenue and adjusted OBITDA:

AOL earnings screenshot

If there is a dark spot here, it is the fact that, notwithstanding revenue growth, AOL still depends on its historic business of selling dial-up subscriptions. While losses in the brand group shrank by 71%, they are still losses — and the tech-heavy AOL Networks, in which AOL has invested significantly, is losing money too. Here’s how the company’s earnings release explains the profit situation:

“While significantly improved, Brand Group Adjusted OIBDA remains negative reflecting our investment in Patch and in our editorial and engineering staff at our core brands and in our sales force domestically and internationally [...] AOL Networks Adjusted OIBDA decreased year-over-year due to higher research and product development costs primarily related to continued investment in Adlearn Open Platform (our demand-side platform) and the launch of AdTech MARKETPLACE (our supply-side platform).”

Update: an earlier version of this story cited analysts’ prediction as $0.32; I’ve updated to also to refer to a separate consensus account of $0.34

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