Yahoo Posts Loss, Revenue Falls Slightly

Yahoo recorded a loss and its revenue shrunk a bit in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2008, the struggling Internet company said Tuesday.

Its new CEO, Carol Bartz, appointed two weeks ago, acknowledged in a statement that the company has "work to do" but said she is excited by Yahoo's opportunities.

The company did a good job of managing costs, made "important" investments, has "tremendous" momentum and innovation, and will emerge stronger when the advertising market recovers, she said.

Revenue was US$1.81 billion, a 1 percent decrease compared to 2007's fourth quarter. Subtracting the commissions it pays to its ad network partners, Yahoo had revenue of $1.37 billion, down 2 percent but in line with the consensus estimate from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Yahoo posted a net loss of $303 million, or $0.22 per share, compared to net income of $206 million, or $0.15 per share, in 2007's fourth quarter.

On a pro forma basis, which excludes certain items, net income was $238 million, or $0.17 per share, $0.04 per share above the analysts' consensus expectation.

The fourth-quarter results have generated particular interest because they are the first ones after Bartz took over. Her comments during Tuesday afternoon's conference call will be closely followed by press and analysts, in case she discloses some of her concrete plans for the company.

Bartz replaced Jerry Yang, who announced his intention to step down in November after his tenure as CEO, begun in mid-2007, failed to turn around the company he founded. He stayed on as Chief Yahoo and as a board member.

Bartz was hired away from Autodesk, where she was executive board chairman after serving as chairman, president and CEO for 14 years, until April 2006.

The day Bartz's appointment was announced, Yahoo President Sue Decker, who had been a candidate for the CEO position, resigned, saying she will leave after a transitional period. Decker worked at Yahoo for eight-and-a-half years and was a close supporter of Yang.

Yang's tenure included an unsolicited acquisition attempt by Microsoft, and critics blamed the failure of that deal on Yang and the Yahoo board. Later, a deal to let Yahoo run Google search ads collapsed after it became clear the U.S. government planned to challenge it due to antitrust concerns. The deal would have given Yahoo's revenue a significant boost.

Yang's tenure as CEO also featured two big rounds of layoffs, an embarrassing exodus of high-profile managers, disappointing financial results, a tanking stock price, free-falling employee morale and little or no advances in key areas, like search usage and search advertising.

Yahoo has been in crisis for several years, during which its financial performance has been generally disappointing and its technology strategy largely unfocused, allowing rivals big and small to take advantage of hot Internet opportunities while Yahoo reacted slowly, if at all.

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