Great QuarterCertainly, for the second year in a row, AOL Time Warner executives won't have a happy story to recount. The company's shares, which traded Thursday at $13.70, up 23 cents, are down 27% from their closing price on the day of 2002's annual meeting, held exactly one year ago. Shares were trading above $55 in the weeks following the merger of America Online and Time Warner in early 2001. The merger story began to sour before 2001's end, as AOL Time Warner executives began their serial estimate-lowering for the company. But that was only part of the bad news shareholders have had to suffer through this year. One blow came from the company's record-setting, billion-dollar writedowns. Another came from the revelations and investigations of AOL's suspect revenue recognition policies -- investigations yet to be resolved.
AOL's long slide
It's no wonder shareholders are grumpy, especially former Time Warner shareholders who wonder whether the merger with AOL was the fleecing of this still-young century. At this year's meeting, shareholders once again may be comforted to know that someone is flying out the door as partial restitution for their losses. One year ago, CEO Jerry Levin departed. This year it's AOL personification Steve Case who is stepping down as chairman, though he's planning to remain on the company board.