Earlier this morning, AOL reported its fourth quarter earnings results, and for shareholders, there's both good news and bad news. The good: the company beat most analysts' expectations. The bad: a column documenting year-over-year changes is still almost full of double-digit negative numbers.
Indeed, total revenue decreased 26 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2009, advertising revenue fell by the same amount, and free cash flow plunged by 38 percent, none of which is encouraging.
But the $596 million in total revenue AOL managed to report was still better than the $587 million analysts had forecast, and AOL reported earnings per share of $0.61 rather than $0.42. Also, AOL had an explanation of sorts for all the negative numbers, citing "initiatives and comprises [sic]."
CEO Tim Armstrong explained in a statement, "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. We have set aggressive goals for ourselves in 2011 in pursuit of capturing the growing opportunity ahead of us."
Then one other interesting point is the fact that AOL sold its stake in video site Brightcove for $17 million during the fourth quarter.
AOL's stock is now down 1.72 percent in early morning trading.