Day 92: Oh Joyous Day! (Well, One Out of One Hundred, At Least)
Hast thou slain the Jabberwock!?!?
Come to me, my beamish boy!
Oh joyous day! Callou-callay!
He chortled in his joy.”
Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang certainly deserved to do a lot of chortling yesterday, when he announced a 12% increase in revenues in the third quarter earnings call with investors.
The rise, which was a surprise (well, a Wall Street version of a surprise, which is planned down to the second by companies, and therefore about as surprising as throwing yourself a surprise party), sent Yahoo shares up 9% in after-hours trading.
The increase, due to improvements in its search-ad system, is certainly good news for Yang, who has been in the midst of a 100-day No Sacred Cows Vision Quest since the last quarter.
In his call yesterday, Yang did not surprise much with a new strategy, noting Yahoo would focus on three areas: being the top destination for consumers (which is now apparently called a “starting point”); creating an open platform a la Facebook (which remains to be seen, given the owned-and-operated attitude of Yahoo over the years); and to be a killer ad network (best bet!).
“The Yahoo we envision today is very different from the Yahoo of a year ago,” said Yang.
Well, thank goodness.
But is it an official turnaround? While I give Yang props for his efforts, I would say not yet, since the quarter also brought a 4.6% drop in profits. This was better than expected, but still not a great trend in a fast-growing market.
And given that the revenue rise was helped by a comparison to a weak quarter a year ago and expectations were low, the drop in net income should be worrisome for anyone paying attention.
If Yahoo cannot improve its search share and traffic over the long term, for example, earnings are likely to remain flat without major cuts in expenses.
In other words, nice job, Jerry. But there’s a lot more life in that Jabberwock still, so you better sharpen up that snicker-snacking vorpal blade.