Things Not So Bad at Yahoo! on Earnings

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Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) is reporting what it calls "significant earnings growth" in its third quarter earnings. The report does not sound that robust f you only look at the percentages used, but right now a good enough report is considered to be very good news for this turnaround stock.

Revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs, ex-TAC revenue, was up 2% to $1.089 billion for the third quarter. While analysts focus on ex-TAC revenue, the internet company said that its GAAP revenue was down 1% from a year ago to $1.202 billion for the third quarter. Operating income on a non-GAAP basis was up about 1% to $177 million in the third quarter of 2012 compared to $175 million a year ago, and its non-GAAP net earnings rose by 66% to $0.35 per share. Thomson Reuters had a consensus of $0.26 EPS and $1.08 billion in ex-TAC revenues.

Yahoo!'s non-GAAP net earnings per share for the third quarter of 2012 does exclude a net gain of $2.8 billion related to the sale of Alibaba shares. It also excludes restructuring charges of $16 million. On a GAAP basis, net earnings per diluted share was $2.64 in the third quarter of 2012, compared to $0.23 in the third quarter of 2011.

This was the first earnings report that was truly under new CEO Marissa Mayer. She said:

Yahoo! had a solid third quarter, and we are encouraged by the stabilization in search and display revenue. We're taking important steps to position Yahoo! for long-term success, and we're confident that our focus on quality and improving the user experience will drive increased value for our advertisers, partners and shareholders.

Here is what Wall S. will be focusing on. Its ex-TAC display revenue was flat at $452 million and GAAP display revenue rose 1% to $502 million. Its ex-TAC search revenue was up 11% to $414 million, and its GAAP search revenue was up 15 to $473 million.

Cash and cash equivalents came to a whopping $9.4 billion as of September 30, 2012 with much of that tied to the Alibaba stake. Yahoo! said it anticipates paying out $2.5 billion in taxes on the Alibaba stake sale. Yahoo! repurchased 12 million shares for $190 million.

This growth might not sound big on the surface, It is still better than what was expected, and finding a bull in Yahoo! is not an easy task. This is a stock where any good news is considered great news for the time being.

Until Marissa Mayer offers guidance, outlines more of her plan, and talks about the use of cash we would treat this as unfinished business. Yahoo! shares closed down 0.4% at $15.77 against a 52-week range of $14.35 to $16.75, and the stock's after-hours reaction is up over 2.5% at $16.22 so far in the after-hours.

JON C. OGG

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