No one expected the first earnings release from new Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz to be dotted with smiley faces but they didn’t expect a loss, either. Between one-time charges, the down ad market and various other factors, the company reported a Q4 loss of $303 million, or 22 cents per share, compared with a profit of $206 million, or 15 cents per share, in Q407. The revenue numbers show just how narrow the divide is between profit and loss, increase and decrease — and how quickly a company teetering on the edge can disappoint. Revenue dropped one percent, to $1.806 billion, compared with $1.832 billion in the Q407 quarter. Excluding traffic acquisition costs (TAC), Yahoo’s revenue dropped 2 percent — to $1.375 billion from $1.4 billion the previous year. Analysts who responded to FactSet Research were expecting earnings of 13 cents a share on revenue on net revenue of $1.37 billion. They were disappointed and others are likely to be as well.
Yes, as David Kaplan pointed out in his earnings preview, these results came in during Jerry Yang’s last swan song quarter as CEO. But this suggests that Bartz has a tougher job ahead of her than even the naysayers might have expected. Her kick-ass tone during her brief intro call struck the right note but people will be listening for substance in today’s call. More to come.
Update: By one perspective, Yahoo beat expectations. If you exclude the restructuring charges of $108 million, the $488 million goodwill writedown for international and $7 million in fees for outside advisors related to Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) proposals and other issues, Yahoo says it would have reported a profit of $238 million for Q4, or 17 cents per share — higher than the 13 cents per share expected by FactSet.