Owner of online home and loan service LendingTree, IAC/InterActiveCorp, reported its fourth quarter 2003 results today. Revenue grew 36 percent over the prior year to $1.8 billion and operating income grew 142 percent to $179 million.

LendingTree had lower than anticipated revenue, according to the IAC quarterly report. LendingTree posted $31.4 million in fourth quarter 2003 revenue and $11.4 million in operating losses That was compared with $24.4 million in revenue and $4.9 million in operating losses in the third quarter of 2003.

“Results in Financial Services and Real Estate were impacted by lower than anticipated revenue from mortgage products, particularly refinancings,” the IAC announcement today stated. “In addition, in anticipation of the seasonally stronger Q1, marketing spending increased in Q4 as compared to the prior year.”

LendingTree anticipates “weakness in the refinance market” in 2004, but plans to make up the gap with higher close rates and “higher volume in purchase mortgages, home equity loans, and real estate transactions.”

IAC also predicted its GetSmart and RealEstate.com acquisitions will generate increase consumer demand and contribute an increasing share of LendingTree revenue.

“LendingTree expects to face increased competition as the industry competes for an expected smaller volume of mortgages in 2004,” the report concluded.

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