Liveblogging Yahoo's First-Quarter Earnings Call: Yahoo Paints by the Numbers!

Published on April 20, 2010
by Kara Swisher

BoomTown liveblogged Yahoo’s first-quarter earnings call with analysts today, which started at 2 pm PT.

Earlier today, Yahoo said its net income spiked to $310 million, or 22 cents a share, in the period.

Revenue, after subtracting what Yahoo (YHOO) pays in advertising commissions, was $1.13 billion.

Wall Street was expecting earnings of nine cents per share and net revenue of $1.17 billion.

Here we go:

2:02 pm PT: Investor lady said stuff. But, yay, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz was on the call, so–not that I don’t enjoy CFO Tim Morse, also on the call–it promised to be much livelier.

Bartz got on first and called it a “solid” quarter. Nothing fancy, but pretty accurate.

She quickly turned it over to Morse for the numbers.

It’s all in the charts and slides here, but Morse did stress the importance of the search and advertising partnership with moneybags Microsoft (MSFT).

It is like cost-savings manna from heaven–$78 million in this quarter alone–for Yahoo. In fact, it’s the gift that will keep on giving, noted Morse, although not in those words.

Also, advertising, especially display, is back! Search, not so much. Revenue per search down, share down–a true weakness for the No. 2 search player.

More numbers from Morse, who began to lull me into an afternoon nap, so there was joy on my part when he said: “On a final note…”

Overall, Morse said that things are looking up.

2:21 pm: Bartz is back, noting first that the ad market is looking up and that marketers are looking to get creative with Yahoo’s “digital canvas.”

“Science, art and scale,” said Bartz.

I had no idea Yahoo was Rembrandt!

She used examples of work the Silicon Valley Internet giant is doing with retail giant Walmart (WMT).

Search is not so pretty: “I don’t think it is any secret that we have had a hard row to hoe in search,” Bartz said.

The bad crops metaphor is right!

2:27 pm: Microsoft deal stuff, though Bartz gave few details.

Suddenly, she threw a bit of a tantrum about those who focus too much on Yahoo executive talent, or–actually–the departure of executive talent from the company, which she called “borderline” obsessive.

I think she just took a smack at my reporting and called me the Vincent Van Gogh of the Internet, since All Things Digital breaks most of those stories.

Memo to Carol: I have covered both goings and comings. Did you miss the Blake Irving piece just this week?

And, frankly, when you lose your chief ad sales person and CTO in a month, it’s kind of a big story.

I am a bit obsessed with Yahoo, it is true, but I still have both ears. (Unless Judy comes at me with some scissors for giving you a hard time!)

End of my tantrum.

Bartz then moved onto details about programming and other features at Yahoo–sports, mobile, Facebook integration–and the company’s recent content deal with Hollywood producer Ben Silverman.

She called what he makes for Yahoo “video snacks.”

Smacks and snacks!

2:37 pm: Q&A time!

First up, a question about search and display.

Morse answered: Display great, search not.

Next: Flat page views and how do you increase engagement?

Bartz will “take a whack at that,” since she is clearly in a whacking mood.

Engagement is a big focus and Yahoo is working on it: More interactivity, social networking, better targeting.

Bartz said she has been getting a lot of diet recipes in that targeting, although she has no idea why. I think she looks great!

Next: What’s up with search declines again?

Morse: We are working on it!

Bartz: “We’re not a long-tail buy.”

Now, a tax guidance question (which means I headed to the bathroom at this point).

Next: What up with international? Also, another question about search decline trends–there has to be a morning after!

“We’re not fighting comScore (SCOR) on this,” said Bartz. Good idea.

“We have a lot of effort going into this,” she added. Stabilization is apparently the new up.

2:50 pm: I missed the last question because I had been looking at an OMG! story about actress Sandra Bullock not wearing her wedding ring. What can I say, except that Yahoo content is a lot more interesting than this earnings call.

But essentially, Bartz was talking about making Yahoo’s internal operations more consistent, which has been one of her favorite memes.

There was also a China question, but Yahoo is not running the show there.

More about the search alliance with Microsoft and its costs.

“There are a lot of moving pieces on this,” said Morse, which means he does not know yet.

He added that Yahoo might buy back some stock, but did not give specifics.

More search questions, this time about how Yahoo sells it. Bartz sounded weary of the questions about this key arena.

I can almost hear the internal dialogue in her head: “WHY THE #@&%*# ARE THEY SO BORDERLINE OBSESSED!?!”

Face it, Carol, we can’t get enough of your search non-answers.

Bartz moved onto Yahoo’s strength in the content space. She is right about this, which is Yahoo’s major differentiation.

And again she stressed the artistic canvas metaphor, for both content and advertising.

Yahoo is the Da Vinci of Digital! The Michelangelo of Microchips! The Picasso of Pixels!

I am borderline choked up at the thought of it.

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