Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

First Up for Carol Bartz: Deliver Yahoo’s Miserable Q4 Report Card

One of the first duties for new Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz: Deliver a brutal fourth-quarter report card for the company she just inherited.

So says Citi (C) analyst Mark Mahaney, who predicts that Yahoo (YHOO) will post a one percent year-over-year decline in its core display ad business when it reports fourth-quarter earnings Jan. 27. That would be the first time that’s ever happened in the company’s history. Mahaney, in his best dry analyst-speak, describes that as a “significant negative.”

It also won’t be a huge surprise: As the chart above (click to enlarge) illustrates, Yahoo’s display advertising has been weakening throughout the year. The same has been happening to its peers, too: Time Warner’s (TWX) AOL may be about to post an 18 percent drop in its ad revenue.

Industrywide, Mahaney thinks, display ads will climb two percent this year. (That makes him an optimist in some quarters.)

And if Bartz does have to deliver lousy news, now is the best possible time to do it: This will get laid at the feet of Jerry Yang, Sue Decker and the economy in general.

Next quarter, though? A different story.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work