AOL earnings: Still not good

Pundits will have to wait yet another quarter for the positive fruits of CEO Tim Armstrong's much-touted turnaround.

AOL's advertising revenues have dropped yet again, according to the company's 2010 fourth-quarter earnings report, issued today. But the good news? Wall Street had been anticipating that things would be even worse.

Revenue for the quarter was $596 million, down 26 percent year over year as the company continues to lose subscribers to its waning dial-up Internet access service. Advertising revenue--which AOL sees as its future--was $332 million, down 29 percent from last year. There has been continual restructuring taking place at the company since Tim Armstrong was named as AOL's CEO nearly two years ago and the company spun off from former parent Time Warner later that year, but there just haven't been positive results yet.

"I am very proud of what we accomplished in 2010 as we began the year with a significant restructuring of AOL and ended the year with a significantly improved balance sheet, a number of exciting new products and a new culture focused on winning," Armstrong said in an earnings release statement. "We have set aggressive goals for ourselves in 2011 in pursuit of capturing the growing opportunity ahead of us."

Late last year, AOL restructured its editorial staff into what it calls "towns," merging some under-performing blog titles into others and moving the leadership around in general. With curious timing, an internal AOL document leaked yesterday describes the company's ambitious plans for increasing traffic and revenue in what it refers to as "The AOL Way."

In a conference call this morning, Armstrong said that he expects AOL advertising revenue will begin to grow in the second quarter of 2011.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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