IAC lands in the red on writedowns

Profits from travel biz dropped 25% to $81 mil

NEW YORK — Running a movie studio’s tough, but online travel might be even tougher.

Former media mogul Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp swung to a $46 million net loss in the fourth quarter after writing down the value of two businesses — its call center service and a U.K. travel channel.

The Gotham-based e-commerce giant, which owns Expedia, Home Shopping Network, Hotels.com and Match.com, earned $153 million in the year-earlier quarter.

Profits from the company’s travel biz dropped 25% to $81 million, giving some on Wall Street jitters: Shares plunged 6.04% to close at $22.55 — well off its year-high near $35 in the spring.

Standard & Poor’s Equity Research maintained a “sell” rating on IAC, citing challenges at the travel division.

IAC noted that its hotel biz is facing stiff competish from third-party distributors and more promotions by hotels on their own Web sites.

Quarterly revenue fell 5% to $1.72 billion. Full-year profit slipped 2% to $152 million, while revs eased 2% to $6.2 billion.

In December, IAC unveiled plans to split into two companies devoted, respectively, to online travel and electronic retailing. Separation is expected in the second quarter.

Diller, during a conference call, noted hefty investments in customer service last year. He said cash-rich IAC is always on the prowl to acquire businesses that could benefit from online activity.

Company said profits for the quarter and year were up excluding one-time charges. The same is true of revenue after adjusting for accounting changes.

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