IAC Q4 Earnings: Search Growth 3% But Takes $1 Billion Loss On Ask.com

IAC, the parent company of Ask.com, reported their fourth quarter earnings today and overall, it was a good quarter of revenue for IAC, being up 5% year-over-year in revenue. On the income side of the balance sheet, IAC was up 47% from Q4 of 2008 to Q4 2009. Search, which includes Ask.com, was up 3% to $185.4 million.

Much of the search growth came from toolbar searches, which was up by 35% in terms of revenue. Search also was up 5% in terms of income, but IAC decided to write off a $1 billion “impairment charge” on Ask.com. The exact amount was $1,020.6 million loss on the search business, which includes Ask.com.

Here are some more details from Reuters on the impairment charge and some notes from the IAC release:

Search consists of our search properties such as Ask.com, Fun Web Products, and Dictionary.com, our distribution business, which includes distributed search, sponsored listings and toolbars, and Citysearch.

Search revenue reflects an increase in proprietary queries and the continued growth in distributed toolbar partners and queries, partially offset by a decline in revenue per query. Ask.com’s site enhancements have improved monetization, leading to increased revenue per query, but have resulted in fewer queries per visit as users find their desired results more quickly. Citysearch’s revenue declined, primarily reflecting lower display revenue due to lower pricing and a planned reduction in inventory availability.

Operating Income Before Amortization was favorably impacted by higher revenue and lower marketing costs, partially offset by higher traffic acquisition costs as a percentage of revenue versus the year ago period. Operating loss in the current year was negatively impacted by impairment charges totaling $1.045 billion related to the goodwill and intangible assets of IAC Search & Media. These charges were identified in our annual impairment assessment and are due to lower growth projections for revenue and profits for IAC Search & Media in future years that reflect the Company’s consideration of industry growth rates, competitive dynamics and IAC Search & Media’s current operating strategies and the impact of these factors on the fair value of IAC Search & Media and its goodwill and intangible assets.

Related Topics: Ask: Business Issues | Channel: Industry

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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