Some moments that stand out from the Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Q4 call … Eight days into her new job, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz is facing analysts, investors and press after a disappointing Q4 earnings report. First order of business: assure them that the company she found isn’t the one she expected — in a good way. From the press reports, Bartz said in her introductory remarks, as an outsider she expected a completely distracted company. That wasn’t what she found. But, she quickly admitted, Yahoo needs to sharpen its strategic focus, hasten the pace of decision making and streamline the business.
She also turned the call right over to CFO Blake Jorgensen, who said the company ended the year with about 13,600 employees, roughly 1,600 fewer than at the end of Q3, for expected annual “run rate” cash cost savings of more than $400 million. But, as detailed in an SEC filing Yahoo made as the session began, Jorgensen explained that Yahoo took a $108 million restructuring charge for the Q4 changes. (Former CEO Jerry Yang is on the call; Sue Decker, who is still president, is not.) Yahoo also wrote down $488 million for goodwill related to international.
More after the jump…
Jorgensen wouldn’t provide guidance for the year “due to economic uncertainty” but did warn that Q109 would be in the $1.525 billion to $1.725 billion range (down from $1.8 billion in Q108). In addition to the economy, factors include the loss of revenues from Kelkoo, which was sold in Q4; $80 million less in payments from broadband partners; and an expected $65 million drop in fees from VoIP and premium music now that Yahoo is out of those businesses.
Picking back up, Bartz went back to her original theme: Yahoo can be fixed. And she interviewed herself a bit before taking questions. “Did I come to Yahoo to sell the company?” Quick answer: No. Long answer, pretty PRish. Then she tried to shoot the other elephant with at least a tranquilizer dart: “Am I planning to immediately sell the search business? I didn’t arrive with preconceived notions about anything.” Bartz talked about search being in better shape than it might appear. (My colleagues Tameka Kee and David Kaplan are covering search and display advertising separately.
Earlier comments aside, Bartz said “everything’s on the table” when it comes to possible asset sales but bristled at the idea that Yahoo has to be parceled off. Yahoo is a “fantastic” internet company that “really doesn