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  • Jun. 26, 2015, 3:24 PM
    • While Verizon (NYSE:VZ) closed on its $4.4B deal for AOL on Tuesday, not every investor is settling for the $50/share price.
    • About 60% of AOL shares were tendered. And at least 5% of shareholdings weren't sold to Verizon and their investors are seeking appraisal on the shares -- where a judge awards a higher price for the shares, and which they can do for a few months before they could abandon the plan and accept the deal.
    • Appraisal requests are growing as an investing tactic after a record 40 cases were filed last year (and 28 so far this year).
    • Objecting funds include Brigade Capital Management and Verition Fund Management. With AOL shares trading above $50 the past few weeks, some buyers were likely funds that intended to seek appraisal.
    | Jun. 26, 2015, 3:24 PM | 2 Comments
  • Jun. 23, 2015, 10:06 AM
    • Just 42 days after announcing a deal, Verizon (VZ +0.8%) has wrapped its $50/share cash acquisition of AOL, as its tender offer expired at midnight last night.
    • AOL will no longer be traded on the NYSE and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the telecom. Some 60.4% of shares were validly tendered, and other shares have been converted into a $50 cash right.
    • Tim Armstrong will continue to lead AOL operations, but now by reporting to Marni Walden, Verizon's executive VP of product innovation and new businesses. Bob Toohey, president of Verizon Digital Media Services, will report to Armstrong.
    • Previously: Verizon CFO: We're keeping Huffington Post, not buying Dish Network (Jun. 15 2015)
    • Previously: AOL chief to net $179M from Verizon deal (May. 14 2015)
    • Previously: Not the old AOL: Verizon purchase all about ads (May. 12 2015)
    | Jun. 23, 2015, 10:06 AM | 6 Comments
  • Jun. 18, 2015, 12:51 PM
    • In another sign of content assets staying put at Verizon (VZ +1%) after its deal for AOL is complete, Arianna Huffington says she's signed a new four-year deal to stay at the helm of the Huffington Post.
    • “After all my meetings and conversations with Tim [Armstrong] and the Verizon leadership, I am convinced that we will have both the editorial independence and the additional resources that will allow HuffPost to lead the global media platform shift to mobile and video,” Huffington reportedly says in a memo to staff.
    • As Verizon agreed to a $4.4B deal to buy AOL last month, speculation centered on whether the telecom would keep content assets like Huffington Post and TechCrunch.
    | Jun. 18, 2015, 12:51 PM | 1 Comment
  • Jun. 15, 2015, 7:30 PM
    | Jun. 15, 2015, 7:30 PM | 5 Comments
  • Jun. 2, 2015, 1:19 PM
    • On a runway to be taken over by Verizon (NYSE:VZ) -- for the purpose of lending its ad-tech expertise to a mobile-video push -- AOL says it's increasing its video output and moving toward a mobile-first design.
    • Mobile unique visitors to have grown 79.5% over the past 12 months, and now make up 37.8% of traffic, the company says.
    • It's promising participation from "premium content partners to next-generation creators, as well as content published and trending across social platforms."
    | Jun. 2, 2015, 1:19 PM | 4 Comments
  • May 26, 2015, 3:39 PM
    • After Verizon (NYSE:VZ) went to AOL to talk deal last year -- talks that were ultimately successful in a $4.4B merger agreement -- it was approached by three other (unnamed) firms regarding an acquisition, newly filed documents show.
    • Verizon had been thinking about a joint venture in order to get its hand on ad tech for its mobile video plans before going for the whole acquisition, the filings show.
    • Along the way AOL had thought about selling off "brand assets" (Huffington Post, TechCrunch), and the fate of those sites is still an open question.
    • AOL chief Tim Armstrong got a special Founders' Incentive Award of 1.5% of company market value at the time of the deal's completion (at a current $3.9B, a bonus of about $59M) -- though he holds options and shares that would bring him $179M and up.
    • 14D-9 filing
    | May 26, 2015, 3:39 PM | 2 Comments
  • May 14, 2015, 2:03 AM
    • AOL (NYSE:AOL) Chief Executive Tim Armstrong stands to net millions from the sale of his company to Verizon (NYSE:VZ), though he won't be eligible for a large portion of that money until a year after the deal closes.
    • Armstrong has spent around $25M of his own cash building up his effective 6.7% stake in AOL. Profit from that sale, plus stock awards and options, would bring his total haul from the transaction to $179M, excluding taxes.
    | May 14, 2015, 2:03 AM | 13 Comments
  • May 12, 2015, 3:44 PM
    • After earnings last week, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong pointed out how programmatic ads were key to the company's growth -- and now they're the key to its $4.4B acquisition by a video-focused Verizon (NYSE:VZ).
    • For Verizon, the timing and focus will be on an upcoming video service that is likely to focus on shorter clips rather than long shows (in keeping with their stated target of mobile-viewing millennials) and would combine key assets in the OnCue service it bought from Intel and the ad-insertion tech that AOL provides. The benefit would come in faster, better ad sales. AOL's Platforms unit grew revenues 21% to $279.8M.
    • Wells Fargo's Jennifer Fritzsche points out the difference between Verizon's strategy and that of AT&T: "While T believes there is a greater need to own more physical infrastructure (through DTV), VZ is building up more assets to strengthen its 'mobile first' OTT initiative -– with advertising playing a key role."
    • Verizon's approach to video is cheaper, too, notes Andrew Dowell in comparing a 4.4B AOL deal with a $49B DirecTV deal: "Verizon is going after millennials. AT&T has its eye on their parents."
    • Meanwhile, Macquarie has downgraded Verizon to Underperform, from Neutral, with a new price target of $45. Shares today are trading down 0.4% to $49.61; AOL is up 18.5% to $50.47.
    | May 12, 2015, 3:44 PM | 9 Comments
  • May 12, 2015, 11:23 AM
    • AOL (AOL +18.7%) has been negotiating with multiple parties to spin off The Huffington Post amid its talks to sell itself to Verizon (VZ -0.6%) for $4.4B, Re/code reports.
    • AOL bought The Huffington Post in February 2011 for $315M, and talks about spinning it off circle around a valuation of $1B, likely structured as a joint venture rather than an outright sale.
    • "We've seen a lot of interest in the content brands we have," AOL CEO Tim Armstrong told Kara Swisher, though AOL's other content properties (including sites like TechCrunch) are reportedly not part of these talks.
    • For Verizon's part, to the extent the deal is also about sourcing video content for its streaming ambitions, HuffPost Live (the all-day video streaming network) has shown significant growth since its 2012 launch, and the company has pressed applications to bring it to conventional TV in Canada.
    • Previously: Verizon scoops up AOL for $4.4B (May. 12 2015)
    | May 12, 2015, 11:23 AM
  • May 12, 2015, 9:16 AM
    | May 12, 2015, 9:16 AM | 3 Comments
  • May 12, 2015, 7:08 AM
    • The $50 per share deal will take the form of a tender offer followed by a merger, with AOL becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Verizon (NYSE:VZ). AOL chief Tim Armstrong will continue to lead the company after the deal closes.
    • "Verizon's acquisition further drives its LTE wireless video and OTT (over-the-top video) strategy. The agreement will also support and connect to Verizon's IoT (Internet of Things) platforms, creating a growth platform from wireless to IoT for consumers and businesses," says the company.
    • Closing is expected this summer.
    • AOL +18% premarket to $50.25, VZ -0.95%
    | May 12, 2015, 7:08 AM | 65 Comments
  • May 8, 2015, 12:18 PM
    • AOL has surged to its highest levels since February after beating Q1 estimates amid low expectations. 19% Y/Y increases in AOL properties search ad revenue and ad sales to 3rd-party properties (to $116.4M and $231.6M, respectively) offset 4% and 6% drops in display ad sales for AOL sites and subscription/ISP revenue (to $130.5M and $141.6M).
    • Ad details: Total search revenue rose 28%, lifted by higher revenue/search. 3rd-party properties revenue benefited from higher sales of premium ad formats (inc. video) and growing adoption of AOL's programmatic ad offerings (big investments have been made). Display ad sales on AOL sites were hurt by lower PC ad impressions and a salesforce restructuring.
    • Other numbers: U.S. ISP subscribers fell by 3% Q/Q and 11% Y/Y to 2.16M; ARPU -2% Q/Q and +7% Y/Y to $20.83. Average monthly multi-platform visitors for AOL properties totaled 190M, -3% Q/Q and +12% Y/Y. Free cash flow was $13.4M, above net income of $7M. Only $4M was spent on buybacks.
    • Cantor (Buy) thinks the Q1 numbers indicate "AOL is making good progress on its transition to becoming the home of more programmatic, video and global platforms." It adds cost controls provided a lift to EPS, and that the Brand Group (covers AOL properties) saw 8.2% Y/Y revenue growth after posting a 1.3% Q4 decline.
    • Q1 results, PR
    | May 8, 2015, 12:18 PM
  • May 8, 2015, 9:16 AM
    | May 8, 2015, 9:16 AM | 4 Comments
  • May 8, 2015, 7:11 AM
    • AOL (NYSE:AOL): Q1 EPS of $0.34 beats by $0.02.
    • Revenue of $625.1M (+7.2% Y/Y) beats by $30.53M.
    | May 8, 2015, 7:11 AM
  • May 7, 2015, 5:30 PM
    | May 7, 2015, 5:30 PM | 7 Comments
  • May 5, 2015, 9:55 AM
    • Believing restructuring efforts and an industry shift towards programmatic (automated) ad buys are pressuring near-term sales, Goldman's Debra Schwartz has downgraded AOL to Sell ahead of Friday's Q1 report, and cut her target by $6 to $38.
    • Schwartz also notes a "monetization gap" exists between AOL's mobile and PC traffic - about half of the company's Q4 traffic came from mobile - and thinks AOL's ad ops could underperform long-term as firms such as Facebook expand their off-platform ad offerings.
    • The downgrade comes after Yahoo, Yelp, and LinkedIn reported soft Q1 sales that were blamed in part on programmatic. AOL has been investing heavily in its programmatic ad tech offerings - the company's ONE platform, which aims to provide an integrated programmatic ad-buying solution across various media channels and data sources, launched last month.
    • Last year: Programmatic ads pose challenge for Web publishers
    | May 5, 2015, 9:55 AM