Stock Watch: E-Commerce Powers AOL

America Online, Inc. was up 1 9/16 to 62 5/16 early Wednesday after reporting an e-commerce driven rise in third-quarter income.

After the close of trading Tuesday, the online giant said net income for the quarter ended March 31st rose to $438 million, or 17 cents a share, from $411 million, or 16 cents, in the year-earlier quarter. Revenue rose 47 percent to $1.8 billion. The results beat analysts’ expectations of 9 cents a share.

AOL, which plans to acquire Time Warner, Inc., said it gained 1.7 million new members during the quarter, bringing the total to 22.2 million. Chairman Steve Case said the results demonstrate that the company is “on a clear path to continued strong growth and increased profitability.”

Separately Wednesday, AOL said its members spent $3.9 billion online in March, with two-thirds of those users now making purchases via the Web. The amount spent was nearly double the figure of a year earlier, and the number of people who bought something online in the past six months was 18 percent higher, according to a study by the Internet Research Group.

AOL members are also spending about 29 percent more a month than they did last year, the company said. “Increasingly, e-commerce is becoming essential to consumers’ everyday retail buying, and the momentum we continue to build in online shopping makes it clear that AOL will continue to deliver on the e-commerce front,” said AOL President Bob Pittman.

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