Yahoo! posts net loss but beats expectations

US Internet giant Yahoo! posted a lower-than-expected net loss of 303 million dollars for the fourth quarter of 2008. For the same quarter a year earlier, Yahoo! reported a net profit of 206 million dollars.


AFP - Yahoo! on Tuesday reported a quarterly net loss but beat analysts' expectations as its new chief executive vowed to do whatever it takes to right the Internet pioneer's financial ship.

"It is my job to make sure we look at anything that makes sense long term for the company and creates value," said Carol Bartz, who took Yahoo!'s helm eight days earlier.

"So yes, everything is on the table. This is not a company that needs to be pulled apart and left for the chickens. It is my job to make sure if there is something interesting to look at, we look at it."

Bartz assured analysts and news reporters on a conference call that she "didn't come here to sell the company" and refused to discuss reports that Yahoo! executives have been meeting with counterparts from Microsoft.

Yahoo! spurned Microsoft's efforts last year to buy the California firm for nearly 47 billion dollars.

Microsoft has expressed continued interest in purchasing the Internet search portion of Yahoo!'s business in order to better battle Google in the online advertising arena.

"I didn't come here to sell the company," Bartz said, leaving open the option of some kind of deal with Microsoft.

"It is my job to do what is best for our shareholders and our customers. I am still working my way through the thought process."

Bartz maintained that search is an "incredibly valuable" part of Yahoo!'s business.

The Internet pioneer reported a net loss of 303 million dollars for the fourth quarter of 2008 compared with a net profit of 206 million dollars for the same quarter a year earlier.

Leaving aside a goodwill write-down of 488 million dollars and restructuring charges of 108 million dollars, Yahoo! posted an adjusted net profit for the quarter of 238 million dollars.

Revenues fell one percent in the fourth quarter from a year ago to 1.81 billion dollars.

Earnings per share were 17 cents while Wall Street analysts had expected Yahoo! to report making 13 cents a share. For the year, Yahoo!'s earnings per share were 46 cents, higher than the 42 cents expected by analysts.

Net profit for the year was 424 million dollars, down 35.7 percent from 2007.

"Despite the challenging economic environment, Yahoo! delivered adjusted operating cash flow above the midpoint of guidance for the fourth quarter," said Bartz.

"The company also made important investments while aggressively managing costs, leaving us better positioned to weather the economic downturn and emerge stronger when advertiser spending improves," the former Autodesk chief said. We have work to do, but I am excited by Yahoo!'s opportunities."

Yahoo! gained 5.2 percent to 11.93 dollars in after-hours trading following the earnings report's release.

The Yahoo! announcement closed the books on what was a turbulent year for the company.

Company founder Jerry Yang stepped down in November after a rocky tenure as chief executive of the Sunnyvale, California, firm that lasted a little over a year.

Yang joined Bartz and chief financial officer Blake Jorgenson on the conference call but did not field any questions.

Yahoo! has been trailing Internet search star Google while also stumbling in the wake of a failed courtship with Microsoft.

Yang's rejection of Microsoft's 33-dollar-a-share takeover bid was met with disapproval by many shareholders including billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who led a revolt against Yang and was eventually named to Yahoo!'s board.

Yahoo also announced plans to lay off at least 10 percent of its workforce, some 1,400 employees.

"As an outsider reading the press last year it was easy to assume Yahoo! was distracted by external turmoil," Bartz said. "I've learned it is just the opposite."

Yahoo!'s earnings took a hit from a "weak global environment impacting everyone," according to Jorgenson.

Customers shifted money from branded online advertising that Yahoo! is known for to "performance" ads such as the pay-per-click kinds at which rival Google excels.

Monetary exchange rates cut into Yahoo! revenue as well.

When asked for details of her "road map" for Yahoo! in 2009, Bartz took a jab at unconfirmed media reports and speculation by responding "I thought I'd buy The New York Times tomorrow...Just kidding."

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