AOL sees rough quarter

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America Online on Thursday reported financials for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 1996 in a company statement outlining a difficult three-month period. The company took a $154.8 million loss, despite the fact that revenues increased 64% to $409.4 million from $249.1 million during the same quarter last year.

AOL continued to make steps forward by growing revenue from online advertising and electronic commerce to the $40 million mark, up from $24 million in the previous quarter, and $13 million during the same quarter last year. Thirty-three new advertisers launched programs on AOL during the quarter, including Toys 'R' Us, Glaxo Wellcome and Turner's Cartoon Network.

But the online service, which now has 8 million subscribers, also took a few steps back. The company took a one-time $74.3 million restructuring charge when it split the company into the AOL Networks, AOL Studios and ANS Communications. AOL is also factoring in an additional $24 million charge for credits and refunds attributed to a consumer refund program it launched Jan. 29 at the request of more than 30 state attorneys general representing angry constituents unable to access AOL's busy lines.

Copyright February 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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