SAN JOSE — Yahoo! Inc. met Wall Street expectations for its third-quarter earnings Wednesday and only slightly reduced its targets for the current quarter, leading investors to send its shares up more than 3 percent in after-hours trading.
However, Yahoo’s chairman and chief executive, Terry Semel, said the company is examining its 44 business units for a realignment that might lead to further job cuts. In April, Yahoo imposed the first layoffs in its six-year history, cutting 420 jobs – 12 percent of its work force.
The earnings report was being studied closely because it was one of the first from a major Internet company since last month’s terrorist attacks. Online advertising already has been slumping for nearly a year and is expected to get even worse along with the overall economy.
In the three-month period ending Sept. 30, Yahoo had its fourth straight quarterly net loss: $24.1 million, or 4 cents a share, on revenue of $166.1 million. In the same period last year, Yahoo showed a net profit of $47.7 million, or 8 cents per share, on revenue of $295.5 million.
Excluding investment losses and other one-time events, Yahoo said it would have earned $8.4 million, or 1 cent per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call were expecting to see 1 cent per share and $170 million in revenue.
Shares of Yahoo, which gained 77 cents, or 8 percent, to $10.93 in regular trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, rose another 37 cents to $11.30 in extended trading following the release of the report.
Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., said it expects to see between $160 million and $180 million in revenue in the current quarter and break even or earn up to 1 cent per share, excluding charges.
Analysts were expecting $190.8 million in revenue and earnings of 1 cent per share.
The reduction in the revenue estimate includes between $5 million and $15 million in sales expected to be postponed or lost because of last month’s attacks, said Susan Decker, the chief financial officer.
“This economic climate is unprecedented,” Semel said on a conference call with financial analysts. “If we found it hard to read the economic picture even before this, now the picture is even more obscured.”
Executives said they had filled key management holes, and touted the company’s healthy balance sheet, with $1.7 billion in cash. Yahoo said it now has 210 million registered users, 80 million of whom actually logged on to the site in September.
With consumers so far cool to Yahoo’s new subscription-based offerings, Semel said Yahoo would soon roll out packages with several services bundled together, for better value. Yahoo hopes premium services can help continue to reduce the company’s reliance on advertising, which makes up about 80 percent of revenue.
Semel said details of the company’s restructuring, and resulting job cuts, would be announced at the company’s meeting with analysts Nov. 15.
“I think we’ll be tighter, leaner, easier to run,” he said in an interview. “We’ll all see where we’re going much more readily.”
Like most businesses, Internet companies had a rough time after the Sept. 11 attacks. Yahoo was one of several popular sites that pulled some advertising.
Nielsen/NetRatings said U.S. Internet usage dropped in September. Fewer people went online, and those who did spent an average of 17 hours surfing the Web, down from more than 18 hours in August.
“It’s a tough backdrop for the best of companies,” said American Express analyst John Faig, who believes Yahoo stock remains too expensive despite its long slide. “There clearly have been better times in history to reboot your business.”
In the first nine months of 2001, Yahoo lost $84.1 million, or 15 cents per share, on revenue of $528.5 million. In the first three quarters of last year, Yahoo earned $168.6 million, or 27 cents per share, on revenue of $799.3 million.
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