Plate Looks Full at IAC

A lot is going on in Dillerland as first-quarter numbers approach.
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IAC/InterActiveCorp

(IACI)

will have plenty to talk about when it reports earnings on Tuesday.

Barry Diller's Internet empire has named two new executives to head its retailing and Ask.com search engine businesses over the past few weeks. Chief Financial Officer Thomas McInerney told investors in March that the performance of the

HSN and

LendingTree units would be weak. And then there's the question of the company's plans to add original content to its Web sites.

"A positive surprise in the quarter could be Ask.com, which has gained market share since the rebranding campaign began in early 1Q06," writes Scott Devitt, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus who rates the shares hold, in a recent note to clients.

Even with the concerns about HSN and LendingTree, shares of New York-based IAC have gained 2% this year. That's actually not too bad, considering that other large e-commerce companies including

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

and

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

have shown double-digit declines.

First-quarter earnings are expected to be 27 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial. Sales are expected to jump 33% to $1.54 billion.

IAC, whose Web sites include

Ticketmaster,

Evite and

Match.com, benefits from both e-commerce and Web advertising. The variety of its businesses can make it a difficult company for Wall Street analysts to follow.

"That diversity is a plus," says Sanjay Ayer, an analyst with Morningstar who rates IAC buy, in an interview. "When one market is weak, they can make it up elsewhere."

Diller prides himself in managing IAC for the long term and has said he is willing to invest in the company at the expense of short-term profits. He also doesn't provide earnings guidance, a la

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

. And as with Google, IAC's closed-mouth stance leads to plenty of surprises come earnings time.

IAC hasn't been shy about making changes in its executive lineup. Last month,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

hired Ask CEO Steve Berkowitz, who was credited with turning around the search engine, to run its flagging MSN unit. Berkowitz was replaced by Jim Lanzone.

Nike

(NKE) - Get Report

executive Mindy Grossman was named head of IAC's retailing business on April 17.

On Friday, IAC fell 19 cents to $28.87.