Published on .

April 18, 2001

By Jon Fine and Mercedes Cardona

NEW YORK ( -- AOL Time Warner amply made its first-quarter earnings expectations

today, despite an environment that has seen many media companies miss estimates and downgrade forecasts.

The announcement gives the newly merged giant a convincing argument that it is well on its way to harvesting the synergies promised when the two companies merged last year.

Excluding charges and adjustments pertaining to its merger, which was completed in January, earnings per share were at 23 cents, up from 19 cents last year and in the upper range of analysts' forecasts.

Wall Street's consensus estimate on the company was 20 cents earnings per share. EBITDA -- earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization -- rose 20% to $2.1 billion, on revenues of $9.1 billion, up 9.1%.

'Jewel of the crown'
CEO Gerald Levin, calling AOL "the jewel of the crown" in a conference call, said that ad revenues at that unit went up 37%. Absent the company's film division, Mr. Levin said, EBITDA was up 26%.

AOL Time Warner's stock was up 11%, or $4.82, to $48.72 in late-day trading.

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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