Yahoo! Inc., the biggest U.S. Web portal, reported profit and sales that topped analysts’ estimates as Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer benefited from an increase in the prices charged for advertisements.
Fourth-quarter earnings, excluding some items, were 32 cents a share, Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo said Monday in a statement. Sales, excluding revenue passed to partner sites, increased to $1.22 billion. Analysts on average had projected profit of 28 cents on revenue of $1.21 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Mayer, the fifth CEO in four years, is striving to narrow Yahoo’s gap with Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. in display advertising, a market that EMarketer Inc. predicts will increase to $17.7 billion this year. Yahoo has appealed to advertisers by investing more in tools that deliver ad promotions to consumers based on their browsing history, said Kevin Stadtler, president of Stadtler Capital Management LLC.
“They are really well positioned because they can provide real-time data to advertisers, who can then pinpoint ads to people who are interested in their products,” Stadtler, who manages $7.2 million in assets, including Yahoo shares, said in an interview. “That’s a really big deal.”
Yahoo stock jumped 4.8 percent to $21.28 in aftermarket trading, after closing little changed. The shares had climbed 2.1 percent this year through Monday's close.
Yahoo said it would give forecasts for the current quarter during a conference call scheduled for later Monday.
Yahoo is working on technology that will personalize content from the Web and feed it to people on their mobile devices, Mayer said in an interview with Bloomberg News last week. User data will make it possible to create a so-called interest graph to show connections among people and create a personalized Internet experience, she said.
“With the Web becoming so vast, there’s so much content and there’s so much social context, and now with mobile, there’s so much location context and activity context,” Mayer said. “How do you pull all that together?”
Since Mayer arrived, Yahoo has continued to cede share in its core business of display advertising. Yahoo’s portion of the U.S. market was 9.3 percent last year, down from 11 percent in 2011, according to researcher EMarketer Inc. Google’s stake rose about 2 percentage points to 15 percent, while Facebook commanded 14 percent.
Google will retain its lead in the U.S. display-ad market this year with an 18 percent share, while Facebook will have 15 percent and Yahoo will slip to 8 percent, EMarketer estimates.
Yahoo’s fortunes are waning in tandem with the personal- computer industry. Yahoo, once the dominant choice for e-mail and search tools when consumers surfed the Web on desktops, has failed to adapt to a new era where many users rely more on smartphones and tablets.
Google and Facebook have been more nimble at catering to consumers’ appetite for mobile apps that work seamlessly with Web-based services, Gillis said.
“If I’m using Yahoo Finance for my stock quotes, don’t make me go find a new app to fill that void on my phone,” Gillis said. “Because once you do that, you’ve lost a user.”
© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.