E-commerce company IAC/InterActiveCorp, parent company to LendingTree, today reported a fourth-quarter loss of $46 million, or 7 cents a share, down from $152.8 million, or 20 cents a share, in fourth-quarter earnings the previous year. Revenue was $1.7 billion, up 9 percent on a comparable net basis.

InterActiveCorp’s holdings include home shopping, ticket, travel, lodging, dating, and mortgage and real estate-related businesses. The company grew revenue in its financial services and real estate segment, while narrowing its quarterly loss in the segment from the previous year.

Revenue in the financial services and real estate channel, which includes LendingTree and RealEstate.com, among other holdings, grew 83 percent to $57.5 million in the fourth quarter. That growth was driven primarily by acquisitions, including HomeLoanCenter and iNest, and growth in existing business lines, the company said.

Revenue from purchase mortgages, refinance mortgages, home equity and real estate transactions grew by 91 percent, 17 percent, 13 percent, and 34 percent, respectively.

The number of loan and real estate requests transmitted increased by 41 percent, resulting primarily from acquisitions and growth in the mortgage and real estate categories. While the total number of closings declined by 1 percent over the prior year, the dollar volume of closed transactions increased by 24 percent reflecting a higher mix of purchase mortgage and real estate transactions, which have higher per-transaction amounts than other products, such as refinance mortgages, home equity and auto loans.

Operating income before amortization in this segment was $6.2 million, compared with a loss of $1.7 million in the prior year period. The operating loss for this segment narrowed to $2.7 million from $11,6 million in the prior year period.

Meanwhile, IAC’s Local and Media Services revenue grew 9 percent to $160.1 million, driven primarily by the inclusion of TripAdvisor and ServiceMagic, and by higher revenue at Citysearch. ServiceMagic is an online referral service for real estate agents, mortgage and local service professionals.

Operating income before amortization in this segment grew 3 percent to $56.7 million, and operating income grew 24 percent to $50.1 million.

“2004 was pivotal for IAC,” Chairman and CEO Barry Diller said. He noted the company’s initiatives and “tuck-in acquisitions” that should lead to growth in the years ahead.

In December, the company announced plans to separate into two publicly traded companies: IAC and Expedia. IAC includes the InterActiveCorp’s ticketing business, electronic retailing business, financial services and real estate, local and media services, and personals. The second company, Expedia, includes Expedia.com and other travel operations such as Hotels.com and TripAdvisor, among others.

“Our other businesses, particularly those in the Financial Services and Real Estate and IAC Local and Media Services groups, made real progress in developing the strategies we all believe will begin to pay off in 2005,” Diller said.

InterActiveCorp shares (Nasdaq: IACI) traded at $23.30 Wednesday morning.

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to jessica@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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