AOL Posts 23 Percent Decline In Revenues During 1st Quarter As It Prepares For Spin-Off

Time Warner announced first quarter earnings today, giving us a peak at how AOL is doing. It’ seen better days. Revenues were down 23 percent to $867 million. Of that advertising revenues made up about half ($443 million), but were down a gut-wrenching 20 percent. Yahoo, in comparison, saw a 12 percent decline in advertising revenues during the quarter, and Google saw 6 percent growth in total revenues on an annual basis. Even Microsoft did better on the online advertising front, suffering a smaller 16 percent drop in the quarter.

Also revealed in the 10Q filing with the SEC is Time Warner’s intention to separate the old dial-up access business and spin off the rest of AOL:

Although the Company’s Board of Directors has not made any decision, the Company currently anticipates that it would initiate a process to spin off one or more parts of the businesses of AOL to Time Warner’s stockholders, in one or a series of transactions. Based on the results of the Company’s review, future market conditions or the availability of more favorable strategic opportunities that may arise before a transaction is completed, the Company may decide to pursue an alternative other than a spin-off with respect to either or both of AOL’s businesses.

New AOL CEO Tim Armstrong gets a pass this quarter because he was just hired away from Google in March. But he has to stop the bleeding before a spin-off or sale is possible. Meanwhile, on the product front, AOL is pushing forward with tweaks to its homepage that more fully integrate blogs, Twitter, and social networks. And AOL is positioning AIM and Socialthing as a single sign-on alternative to Facebook connect and Google Friend Connect.