Barry Diller's argument for buying out public shareholders of Hotels.com ( ROOM) and Expedia ( EXPE) was a little easier to make Thursday after both companies and their parent, USA Interactive ( USAI), posted strong first-quarter results.

Diller's USA Interactive lost $112 million, or 23 cents a share, on revenue of $1.39 billion. It lost $1.04 a share in last year's first quarter on $1 billion. But adjusted for compensation, goodwill and other items, the company earned 16 cents a share, 2 cents better than estimates and up from 6 cents last year.

The company also affirmed that it expects to meet or top the consensus pro forma earnings estimate of 75 cents a share for full year 2003, but said its GAAP numbers would probably be "significantly lower" than expected because of a writedown related to Vivendi Universal ( V).

At Hotels.com, an online provider of room reservations, revenue shot up 67% to $277 million, while earnings surged 44% to $18.6 million, or 32 cents a share, and adjusted earnings rose 33% to 38 cents a share. That's 4 cents better than analysts' forecasts.

Expedia, which sells plane tickets over the Internet, said first-quarter earnings jumped to $26.9 million, or 20 cents a share, up from $6.6 million, or 5 cents a share, last year. Revenue was $199 million, up from $116 million last year. Excluding items, the company earned 30 cents a share, topping the analyst consensus by 7 cents.

USA Interactive shares were up 5.7% to $31.59 after the announcements.

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