AOL is learning the hard way that it's not easy to live up to Wall Street's hype.
Even though AOL (AOL) reported a 23% jump in net income for the first quarter thanks to solid growth in both display and search online advertising, shares tumbled nearly 10% on the news. AOL's profits missed forecasts and investors were also hoping for better overall revenue growth than the measly 2% year-over-year increase that the company put up.
Shares of AOL have been on a tear for the past year. So expectations have increased. That's what happens with momentum stocks.
To be fair, AOL has done a phenomenal job of getting back on track since it was spun off from CNNMoney owner Time Warner (TWX) in late 2009. CEO Tim Armstrong, who joined AOL from Google (GOOG) in 2009 before the AOL public offering, has helped steer AOL away from the dying Internet access business and into the more lucrative world of online content. In addition to the namesake AOL site, the company owns The Huffington Post and hyperlocal news site Patch.
But AOL hasn't completely shed its You've Got Mail legacy business. Revenue from subscriptions still account for nearly a third of overall sales. And subscription revenue tumbled 9% in the quarter.
With that in mind, traders on StockTwits were wondering whether the AOL sell-off is justified or an overreaction. Many seemed to think it's the former.
I agree. Even though AOL has done an admirable job of becoming a leader in online media, the stock price already reflects that. Shares, even after today's drubbing, trade at 23 times 2013 earnings estimates. That's a higher valuation than Google and Yahoo (YHOO).
Very good point. With AOL having nearly quadrupled from its post-IPO low of about $10 in mid-2011, it seems as if the easy money has been made.
AOL is still a turnaround story. Now Armstrong has to prove that AOL can get advertising revenue to grow at such a strong pace that it more than overshadows the continued sales declines in the old AOL Internet access business. The company is not there yet.
Another trader noted that trying to guess what companies are going to do after earnings is a huge risk, especially with a stock that's hot. Sometimes it's best to sell before the results and avoid the noise afterwards.
Exactly. Home carbonated beverage maker SodaStream (SODA) also sold off Wednesday despite strong results. I did today's Buzz video on that.
Both companies reported results that are promising. Long-term investors should be encouraged and satisfied. But traders are a different animal.
It's the 21st century, and AOL's stock is soaring. And no -- those two facts are not mutually exclusive.
Shares of AOL (AOL), an Internet pioneer way back in the 1990s, spiked more than 15% Tuesday after the online content provider announced third-quarter revenues and earnings that beat analyst forecasts.
Investors are continuing to place bets that AOL will not only stop its internal bleeding but that a turnaround is afoot. MOREMaureen Farrell - Nov 6, 2012 12:31 PM ET
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of CNNMoney, and Abbott Laboratories, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.
On this Election Day, MOREPaul R. La Monica - Nov 6, 2012 12:09 PM ET
AOL's stock fell 6% Thursday after shareholders defied an activist's attempt to unseat three directors by voting to re-elect all eight members of AOL's board, including CEO Tim Armstrong.
"On behalf of AOL's Board and management team, we want to thank our stockholders for their strong support throughout this process," said AOL in a statement.
One of AOL's biggest investors, activist hedge fund Starboard MOREHibah Yousuf - Jun 14, 2012 1:48 PM ET
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