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Yahoo falls despite strong earnings report

Shares of Yahoo fall even though the company beat Wall Street estimates for its second-quarter earnings.

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Shares of Yahoo fell today even though the company beat Wall Street estimates for its second-quarter earnings.

Its shares declined by 2.63 points, or 1.57 percent, to 164.44. The company's shares have hit a high of 244 and a low of 29.5 during the past year.

The Web bellwether yesterday reported net income of $28.3 million for the second quarter, or 11 cents per share, excluding charges for mergers and acquisitions. Including those charges, Yahoo reported a net loss of $15 million, or 7 cents per share.

This figure beat analyst estimates by 3 cents per share. Wall Street expected Yahoo to report earnings of 8 cents per share excluding charges, according to First Call's consensus of analyst estimates.

Yahoo reported revenues of $115.24 million for the second quarter, a 156 percent increase over the $44.9 million reported the same quarter a year ago.

In addition, Yahoo's user base showed healthy growth. In June, 80 million unique users visited Yahoo's network of properties. And it reached 65 million registered users, compared to 47 million in March.

Registered users give Yahoo information so it can direct-market goods and services to them. Registered users submit their names and email addresses in exchange for access to free services such as email and chat.

Despite the robust registration numbers, however, some analysts are scratching their heads over another metric: page views. Yahoo reported 310 million page views per day in June, up from 235 million in March. However, GeoCities accounted for 40 million of June's page views, and Yahoo Japan accounted for an additional 22 million.

PaineWebber equity analyst Jim Preissler said Yahoo as a standalone site showed relatively sluggish page view growth of 13 percent from March to June.

But Yahoo chief executive Tim Koogle said the second quarter is one of the slowest periods, and he was not surprised by the 13 percent growth rate.

"Every year there's seasonality in terms of consumption," Koogle said. "If you look at close detail, you know that there are wiggles on the growth consumption curve. The wiggles are because people are on vacation."

But Preissler remained skeptical. The same period last year showed 21 percent growth. "This is a deviation from last year," Preissler said. "Maybe they're not getting the traction from these people they're adding, or there's some sort of lag effect happening. Something different is going on with all these new users registering."

The second quarter saw the close of Yahoo's $2.86 billion acquisition of GeoCities, which resulted in the loss of roughly 300 GeoCities jobs from layoffs and departures.

In addition to GeoCities, Yahoo in late May acquired software firm Encompass to beef up its My Yahoo personalization service. And in early June, it acquired Online Anywhere for $80 million in stock to spread its service into non-PC devices.

Yahoo's acquisition of Broadcast.com is expected to close July 20.

To continue to meet Wall Street's expectations, Yahoo will need to focus more on e-commerce, said Tim Brady, Yahoo's vice president of production.

The only products that Yahoo sells directly are Yahoo-themed items such as T-shirts and hats. However, the company has deals with Travelocity to sell travel and E-Loan for mortgages, and it maintains separate auctions, shopping, and classifieds areas.

"The need for folks like ourselves to get into e-commerce in some way is very great," Brady said. But he added: "Do we need to get into selling direct to meet those expectations? I would argue no. I think there are other ways to go about it other than selling direct."

International Data Corporation analyst Jill Frankle said that with ad revenues falling and greater competition among sites for available advertising dollars, portal sites like Yahoo will need to turn more to e-commerce. Unlike ad revenue, e-commerce is "poised to explode," she said.

"For portals to capture a significant share of those dollars is critical," Frankle added.

Reuters and News.com's Troy Wolverton contributed to this report.

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