Yahoo: We'll double our cash flow

Originally organized prior to Microsoft's takeover bid, the presentation reveals that Yahoo hopes to double its operating cash flow from $1.9 billion to $3.7 billion over the next three years.

This post was last updated at 7:37 AM PT.

Claiming that it is both undervalued and underappreciated, Yahoo has fired some key financial forecasts over the bow of an acquisitive Microsoft.

On Tuesday, Yahoo reported the contents of a presentation to investors detailing the company's strategy for the next three years, as seen in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The presentation was first shown to investors in December 2007, prior to Microsoft's announcement that it planned to acquire Yahoo. But on Tuesday, Yahoo underscored the contents of the presentation as evidence that Microsoft's unsolicited takeover bid, issued January 31, "substantially undervalues" the company.

In its new broadside, Yahoo said it hopes to double its operating cash flow from $1.9 billion to $3.7 billion over the next three years, and in 2010 aims to pull in $8.8 billion in revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs. The company is also sticking to the first-quarter outlook that it issued in January.

One presentation slide sums it up bluntly: "We believe our growth and profitability prospects are not fully appreciated by the public market." A ballsy assertion for a company that laid off 1,100 less than two months ago .

Anticipating that its growth will outpace the rest of the market, Yahoo projected $1.9 billion in added revenue (excluding traffic acquisition costs) from display and video advertising over the three-year period. In the search advertising sector, Yahoo expected that its growth would parallel the market and result in $1.4 billion in added revenue.

It's an optimistic outlook, and Yahoo is clearly banking on strong conditions in 2009 and 2010, something that recent economic news may render less likely . And Yahoo's presentation does cite global home-page figures for January, an area where Yahoo has been lagging significantly behind Google, with 425 million unique users versus 305 million for Yahoo. Yahoo search, too, has long operated in Google's shadow, with global query figures for the last quarter of 2007 showing Yahoo search with a 27 percent share, Google with 53 percent.

Yahoo finance slide show

Perhaps with the gloomy U.S. economic forecast in mind, Yahoo's presentation highlighted the company's strategic position in Asian markets, citing the dominance of Yahoo Japan, in which it holds a 33 percent stake; and the success of business-to-business site Alibaba, in which it holds a 28 percent stake . According to the details of the presentation, these heavy investments in Asian dot-coms typically are not taken into account nearly enough in assessments of Yahoo's value.

Heavy emphasis is also placed on Yahoo's freshest social-media projects, like social news site Yahoo Buzz and the yet-to-launch mobile service , Yahoo OneConnect. They're both innovative projects and initial analysis of Buzz seems to indicate early success, but Yahoo's track record in the social media space has been spotty. Yahoo Groups are a longtime staple, but the Yahoo Mash social network , launched in September, failed to get much traction.

Somewhat ironically, the presentation also details a strategic initiative on Yahoo's part called Must Buy. It's referring to ad inventory and making it easier for advertisers and publishers to work with Yahoo, but given Microsoft's bid, "Must Buy" has some snicker-inducing connotations that Yahoo might not want.

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About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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