America Online surprised Wall Street last week, reporting an earlier-than-expected return to the black with a net income of $2.6 million (#1.6 million) - two cents a share - for its third fiscal quarter ended 31 March.
The world's largest on-line service was expected to lose at least seven cents a share.
But the company, which has battled with several law suits and a string of customer complaints, failed to increase its customer base which remained flat at eight million. In a statement the company admitted its return to profitability was due, in part, to its halt on marketing expenditure.
AOL's CEO, Steve Case, said: "We've made good progress in laying a solid foundation for sustained profitability based on our new business model of multiple revenue streams. We are also pleased to have expanded our network rapidly to meet the extraordinary level of demand for AOL. As promised, we have worked around the clock to serve our existing members first and our top priority was, and still is, improving access. At the same time, we have achieved profitability a bit ahead of schedule."
Revenue for the quarter was up 46% over the same period last year, to $456.2 million.
Case said subscriber cancellations increased in January because of the change to flat-rate pricing and access problems, but added: "Member retention improved steadily as the quarter progressed, with both trial member conversions and retention rates for April hitting their highest levels in the past year."
AOL is planning to introduce software that "will improve the user's experience" by this summer. The software includes new multimedia animation technology with streaming video and audio as well as dynamic HTML layout on its pages.
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