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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 21:42 GMT 22:42 UK
Time Warner hails rising profits
Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai
Time Warner's recent film hits include The Last Samurai
Media giant Time Warner has unveiled higher quarterly profits, boosted by the sale of its music division.

The owner of Time Inc, Warner Bros film studios and troubled online operator America Online (AOL), reported net profits of $961m in the first quarter.

US-based Time Warner said its results had been lifted by the sale of its Warner Music label for $2.7bn.

But the firm's upbeat performance was dented by growing concerns over the future of AOL.

Debts chopped

The online business continued to lose members in the first quarter and is facing two federal probes into its accounting.

However, subscriber losses of 237,000 at AOL - which contributes around 20% to Time Warner's profits - were well below analysts' loss estimates of around 500,000 subscribers.

Overall, Time Warner said it had cut its debt to $18.8bn, from $27.7bn at the end of 2003.

Chairman and chief executive officer Dick Parsons said: "We're very pleased with the company's strong financial performance this quarter...we're off to a great start for the year."

Excluding the sale of its music division and accounting changes, Time Warner reported a profit of $712m - in line with forecasts.

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