SAN JOSE — Fourth-quarter losses narrowed considerably at Yahoo! Inc. and beat Wall Street expectations, and the Internet bellwether said Wednesday it is on track to see its fortunes rebound in 2002.
Separately, president and chief operating officer Jeff Mallett, who joined Yahoo in 1995 as employee No. 12, said he is stepping down in April to spend more time with his wife and two young daughters and to pursue outside business opportunities.
Yahoo reported its fifth consecutive quarter in the red, losing $8.7 million, or 2 cents per share, on revenue of $188.9 million in the three months ending Dec. 31. In the comparable period in 2000, Yahoo lost $97.8 million, or 17 cents per share, on sales of $310.9 million.
Excluding restructuring charges and other one-time events, Yahoo said it would have earned $16.7 million, or 3 cents per share. Analysts had been expecting 1 cent per share, on revenue of $170.7 million, according to Thomson Financial/First Call.
Yahoo shares sank $1.60, or 8 percent, to $17.87 on the Nasdaq Stock Market before the earnings report, but jumped to $18.83 in after-hours trading.
The quarter capped an eventful year at the company, which moved into new headquarters in Sunnyvale; saw Internet advertising plummet with the economy; staged two rounds of layoffs; dealt with the departures of several key executives; realigned its business structure under new CEO Terry Semel, and pulled off a last-minute, $436 million bid for HotJobs.com.
For all of 2001, Yahoo lost $92.8 million, or 16 cents per share, on revenue of $717.4 million. Those marks were well off the company’s record showing in 2001, when it earned $70.8 million, or 12 cents per share, on revenue of $1.1 billion.
But Yahoo raised its targets for this year. Executives predicted Yahoo would earn 1 or 2 cents per share in the current quarter, excluding charges, on revenue between $160 million and $180 million. Analysts had been predicting 1 cent per share and sales of $163.8 million, according to First Call.
The company also predicted that 2002 revenue would rise to between $750 million and $800 million, with earnings excluding charges of 7 to 10 cents per share. Those estimates, which exclude potential increases from the addition of HotJobs, surpass the current consensus forecast of 9 cents per share and sales of $735 million.
Semel said he has a “quiet confidence” about Yahoo’s position and is seeing signs the advertising market may have stabilized.
But even without an economic turnaround, Semel expects Yahoo’s results to improve as the company offers new packages of subscription services to its 219 million registered users, ramps up sales of listings on its search pages and reaps the benefits of improved relationships with ad agencies.
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