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AOL edges past 1Q forecasts

America Online (NYSE: AOL) earned a penny more than consensus estimates in the first quarter.

After market close Wednesday, the world's biggest Internet service provider reported fiscal first quarter net income of $350 million, or 14 cents per share, not including special charges. First Call's survey of 33 analysts predicted a profit of 13 cents per share for the quarter ended Sept. 30.

Including non-recurring items, AOL earned $345 million, or 13 cents per share.

First quarter revenue incresaed 34 percent year-over-year to $2 billion from $1.5 billion. Operating margin was 25 percent, compared to 18 percent a year earlier.

Advertising, commerce and other revenue totaled $649 million, an 80 percent gain from the year-ago period, and roughly in line with analysts' expectations. Advertising and commerce backlog at the end of the quarter was $3 billion, or about the same as the fourth quarter.

Subscription revenue of $1.2 billion represented a 21 percent improvement from the year-ago period. AOL's flagship service picked up 1.4 million subscribers during the quarter, and ended September with 24.6 million users. The Compuserve brands had more than 2.8 million members at the close of the quarter.

AOL Europe added 290,000 users during the first quarter and now has 3.9 million members total.

Also Wednesday, AOL said it would launch the next version of its AOL client software by the end of October.

Wednesday's report comes as AOL speaks with government regulators regarding an AOL-Time Warner merger. On Wednesday, Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) reported net income of $85 million, or 6 cents per share, on revenue of $6.9 billion. First Call's analyst survey predicted a profit of 4 cents per share.

Shares of AOL rose 3.31 during Wednesday's regular trading to close at 46.91 ahead of the first quarter report.

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