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Yahoo’s income drops 5 pct during fourth quarter

Scott Thompson

Although many earnings announcements may have been lost in the wake of Apple’s $46.3 billion quarter, struggling Internet giant Yahoo also posted its earnings for the quarter ended December 31, 2011—and they weren’t nearly so rosey. The good news is that Yahoo managed to earn some $312 million during the quarter; the bad news is that figure is a five percent decrease from the same period in 2010. Although income from operations increased a bit year over year, Yahoo attributed the overall decline in revenue from decreasing revenues garnered from its search agreement with Microsoft. Measured by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), Yahoo’s revenue for the quarter was $1.32 billion, and its revenue for the year some $4.98 billion—and that full-year figure represents a 21 percent decline compared to 2010.

“Yahoo continued to make progress in the quarter with operating income increasing ten percent year over year,” said newly-appointed Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson, in a statement. “In 2012 we will be aligning resources behind key areas of focus to enable us to move aggressively in market and grow our business, bringing innovative new products and experiences to both our users and advertisers.”

The bright spot in Yahoo’s financials was income derived from its own operations, which increased a comparatively swarthy ten percent compared to the same quarter a year ago. However, Yahoo’s overall income was down due to the portion of search advertising revenue that the company has to hand over to Microsoft. And Yahoo’s share of the online advertising business is slipping: according to e, Yahoo’s overall share of online advertising revenue dropped from 13.3 percent in 2010 to 11 percent in 2011—over the same period, Google managed to increase its share by an almost equivalent amount.

Thompson’s move into Yahoo’s CEO role was followed quickly by the departure of Yahoo co-founder (and one-time CEO) Jerry Yang. In a conference call with analysts, Thompson indicated that Yahoo’s “highest priority” at the moment was shoring up its display advertising business. In part, Thompson envisions doing that by leveraging one of Yahoo’s crown jewels—its base of more than 700 million users around the world. If Yahoo can convince those users to interact more with Yahoo services, it’s advertising business should be on solid footing—and that’s a far better position to be in than having to attract millions of new users to a service.

However, Thompson declined to comment on the possibility Yahoo may shed its stakes in Yahoo Japan and China’s Alibaba to fuel a turnaround.