Photo: Bloomberg TV
Yahoo reported its fourth-quarter earnings Monday and they beat expectations for earnings and revenues.Beyond the GAAP figures, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer also laid out a more precise explanation for how she plans to turn Yahoo around in the long term.
She started the call with a lengthy update on Yahoo’s people—its efforts to upgrade its engineering, design, and business talent, though hires and small acquisitions, as well as reform of Yahoo’s bureaucratic culture.
With that talent, she plans to start a “chain reaction,” where great people build great products which engage users and provide an expanding audience for advertisers.
On the numbers, Mayer, a former Googler, seems to have optimised search revenues, which is nice. It’s terrible news that display revenues shrank, since that’s Yahoo’s core business. But those will only turn around when the company begins to figure out new ways to attract and engage new users.
- EPS: $.32 vs $.28 consensus
- Revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs: $1.22 billion vs $1.21 billion expected
- Revenue growth 2% y/y.
- Revenue totally in line.
- Profits are a nice beat.
- Search revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs is up big – 14% y/y.
- Display advertising shrank 5% y/y.
We took running notes throughout the call. Here they are below.
(Anything not in quotes is a paraphrase.)
5:03 – Mayer is on the line. She says that it’s hard to believe this was the end of her first full quarter.
5:04 – By the way, prior to the call starting, Mayer could be overheard giving her team a “special note.” It was “You need to get good music.”
5:05 – Mayer says her first big mission was to fix Yahoo’s culture. She says Yahoo employees made a list of 300+ things that she should fix. She says that Yahoo is losing fewer employees, now. She says that 95% of employees are optimistic about the future of the company.
5:07 – Mayer is talking about executive promotions.
5:09 – Mayer is talking about Yahoo’s sale re-org. She said clients were confused before. There is now a single-point of contact per customer.
5:10 – Mayer says Yahoo has improved its products. Its mission: “Yahoo is about making the world’s daily habits more inspiring and entertaining.” She says Yahoo Mail is up more than 10% y/y in daily active users after a redesign.
5:11 – Now she’s talking about Flickr’s redesign. She says that there have been 25% more photos uploaded, viewed, and shared on a daily basis since the update.
5:12 – Mayer talks about Yahoo News, talking up OMG and election coverage.
5:14 – Mayer is talking about returning cash to shareholders. It bought 80mm shares of YHOO so far, due to Alibaba.
5:15 – CFO Ken Goldman is now on the line. He says its been 4 quarters of revenue growth. He points out search growth, and says that there is a team in place that will get the same growth in display.
5:16 – Goldman says Yahoo has $6 billion in cash and liquid investments.
5:17 – Goldman is now going over numbers, which you can read in the earnings release.
5:20 – Goldman is talking about new revenue metrics. In search: paid clicks and price per click. In Display: number of ads sold and price per ad.
5:21 – Why the search gains? Clicks grew 11% and price per click grew too. New ad products and new tech upgrades resulted in higher click throughs for advertisers.
5:26 – Goldman says Yahoo Japan is a valuable asset with growth prospects. He says Yahoo will look to partner more with it. That’s interesting news, because previously, Yahoo had been looking to sell some of its YJ stake.
5:29 – Goldman says most CapEx is going to toward data centres to improve Website speed.
5:31 – Says the Yahoo Mexico suit is “without merit,” and Yahoo will win.
5:31 – Goldman will now provide some guidance.
5:33 – Marissa is back on the line.
5:35 – She says there is big opporutnity search, display, mobile and video. In search, she says there is still a lot of headroom. In display, she’s talking about optimization. She says Yahoo needs to improve engagement. The keys is personalisation. She says mobile isn’t material yet, but they are working on it. She says Yahoo sells video six months in advance and that it’s just getting started.
5:37 – She says that Yahoo needs to grow globally. 3/4 of its revenues came from the Americas this quarter, and she’d like to shrink that.
5:39 – Time for questions.
5:39 – Analyst wants to know if bad ads need to come down before engagement starts going up.
5:39 – Mayer says ads add a lot to the user experience. The mail re-launch eliminated the “what’s new page” which was an ad page. She says that while Mail now has fewer ads, it’s getting more ad clicks.
5:42 – Analyst wants to know how to judge whether Yahoo is doing well in mobile. Also wants to know how Yahoo is approaching programmatic buying.
5:42 – Mayer says Yahoo doesn’t break out mobile stats yet. She says Yahoo has 200mm monthly uniques on mobile, and to look at those numbers.
5:43 – Mayer says display was weaker last quarter because impressions were down, but stably down throughout the year. In Q3, pricing provided a bump. There were excellent Q3 premium ad sales around the olympics. She says its not because of the shift to mobile.
5:44 – Mayer says Yahoo is working diligently on programmatic ad tech. We think this is a great way to serve our advertisers and we’ll deliver in the future.
5:45 – Analyst wants to know if Google’s tool bar change effects Yahoo.
5:46 – Mayer declines to comment.
5:47 – Analyst wants to know if Yahoo will provide more data about usage, like minutes per page.
5:47 – Mayer says minutes per page is hard to do because it can be hard to tell if a consumer is leaving a tab open. She says paid clicks and the number of ads sold, because both indicate more pageviews and impressions.
5:49 – Analyst wants to know how Mayer sees Yahoo’s search role over the long haul.
5:49 – Mayer says its a key area of investment for us. We’re excited to work with Microsoft, she says. She says the teams work well together. She says Yahoo needs to invest in user-interface, where all innovations in search will be. She says that Apple’s Siri uses Yahoo’s data. We’ve lost some share in recent years and we’d like to regain it. We have some ideas how.
5:51 – Analyst wants to know if Yahoo will improve desktop to improve mobile.
5:51 – Mayer says its important to “lower the switching costs” – make it Yahoo Finance on desktop and phone, and it’s easy to switch back and forth. She says there will be innovations on both platforms.
5:52 – Analyst wants to know what Yahoo is going to fix next, after Flickr and Yahoo. Mayer says there are a dozen it’s put on a list to fix.
5:54 – Some of these dozen include: Mail, Search, Homepage, Finance, Sports, and News. There’s a few others where Yahoo has a few innovative ideas.
5:56 – Mayer says in R&D, Yahoo is investing in fast nimble and small teams.