Revenue, Profit Beats Forecast at IAC/InterActive

Barry Diller's Internet holding company IAC/InterActive Corp reported better-than-expected first-quarter revenue and profit bolstered by its search and dating businesses.

Total revenue in the quarter jumped 39 percent to $640.6 million, beating analysts' average forecast of $593 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"It's a nice solid execution once again," said Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Partners. "The piece of the equation that is overlooked is how well search is doing."

The New York-based company said on Wednesday revenue at the company's search business, which includes, increased 47 percent to $343.2 million, while its dating service posted revenue of $174.3 million, up 56 percent.

IAC's rose 6.2 percent to $51.77 in morning trading.

The stock is up nearly 35 percent from a year ago attracting investors who like the company's strong share buy-back program and cash dividend.

IAC said its board of directors approved a repurchase of an additional 10 million shares and declared a quarterly cash dividend of 12 cents per share.

"The first year under Greg Blatt was everything to be expected -- we have healthy revenue growth and excellent cash flow," Gillis said.

Blatt stepped in as IAC's chief executive about a year and a half ago after Diller, the colorful media mogul who ran Paramount Pictures and later Rupert Murdoch's Fox, stepped down.

Diller still servers as the company's chairman.

A consummate dealmaker, Diller was also instrumental in forming a 50-50 joint venture with Newsweek, owned by the late Sidney Harman, and IAC's Daily Beast website founded by Tina Brown.

For the first quarter, the company reported equity in losses of $6 million, which includes Newsweek/Daily Beast among other investments, compared with a loss of $1.9 million in the same period a year ago.

IAC created a new segment in the first quarter called "local" that now includes ServiceMagic, targeted to homeowners, and local guide Citysearch. Revenue for the segment increased 9 percent to $77.1 million.

Adjusted earnings per share were 51 cents, above analysts' expectation of 46 cents. Net income rose to $34.5 million or 38 cents per share, from $18.1 million, or 19 cents per share, in the same period a year before.

Between Jan. 28, 2012, and April 27, 2012, the company bought back 5.1 million shares for about $242.3 million.

(Reporting By Jennifer Saba; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Maureen Bavdek)