AOL Stock Hits 1-Year Low, Investors Caught Off Guard

By Erin Harrison July 28, 2011

After firing its ad sales head earlier this week, AOL stock has dropped at least 6 percent, hitting a 52-week low Wednesday morning.

According to media reports, shares of the ailing Internet company bottomed out on July 27 at $17.52. As of this writing on July 28, shares inched forward to $17.81. By comparison, one year ago, AOL shares were $27.65

On Monday, AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong outlined several leadership changes in an internal email, including the departure of AOL’s president of global advertising and strategy, Jeff Levick.

As Business Insider points out, “maybe that sent the wrong signal to institutional buyers?”

Analysts say timing of the corporate reorganization announcement coupled with its impending second quarter earnings report have taken investors aback.

Ken Sena, an analyst with Evercore Partners, told AdWeek the timing of these events gives investors good reason to pause.

“The timing of the reorg following the analyst day gives the impression that it was less expected and so close to earnings, when there are already questions about their ability to deliver on full-year guidance numbers,” Sena said in the report.

Adding more uncertainty to the mix, Levick gave a presentation to investors last month on the company’s plans moving forward – but in his absence, investors may not be sure that AOL is charting the same course Levick outlined in June.

As TechZone reported earlier this week, Levick is being replaced by Ned Brody, the former executive vice president of paid services, who is taking on the newly created position of chief revenue officer and president of AOL’s advertising unit, according to the Associated Press.

AOL’s second quarter 2011 financial results will be announced on Aug. 9 at 8 a.m. ET.

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Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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