Shares are up about 7% in pre-market trading after AOL reported a milestone that investors have been waiting to see: Its revenues have finally picked up as gains from ad sales outpaced the declines from its ancient (in Internet terms) Web subscription business. The company says that in Q4 it generated $35.4M in net income, +55.3% vs the period last year, on revenues of $599.5M, +3.9%. The top line number is well ahead of the Street’s expectation for $573.7M. Earnings at 41 cents a share matched the consensus forecast. AOL says that global ad sales were up 13% while subscription revenues fell 10%. The company had 2.8M domestic Internet subscribers at year end, -15%. Revenues at the Brand Group — which includes some of AOL’s most popular Web destinations including the Huffington Post, Moviefone, and its Patch local news sites — were up 4% to $213.2M, but increasing expenses resulted in a 34% decline in cash flow to $8.8M. At the Membership Group, which includes the ISP business, revenues were -9% to $230.8M with cash flow -10% to $158.7M. And AOL Networks, with the AOL On video service and ad support properties, saw revenues rise 37% to $183.5M with cash flow of $6.4M, up from a $10.7M loss last year. In addition to the earnings, the company says that its board has approved a plan to repurchase $100M of AOL’s stock this year. “AOL returned to growth and generated significant value for shareholders in 2012,” CEO Tim Armstrong says. “AOL has strong momentum entering 2013 and is positioned to continue on our growth path by executing our strategy to build the next generation media and technology company.”
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