January 25, 2012, 2:28 PM — Yahoo's new chief executive, former PayPal chief Scott Thompson, had the dubious pleasure Tuesday of announcing the struggling Internet pioneer's 2011 fourth quarter and annual results, which were compiled before Thompson took the corner office left vacant for four months following the firing of Carol Bartz.
They were predictably disappointing. Net income for the quarter ended December 31 fell 5% to $296 million from $312 million a year ago. Gross revenues were down 13% to $1.32 billion from $1.53 billion in the year-ago quarter. Revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs was $1.17 billion, down 3% from $1.21 billion in last year's Q4.
Analysts expected earnings of 24 cents a share (which Yahoo matched) and revenue of $1.19 billion.
Because Wall Street is now like the parent who gave up being disappointed that their child keeps bringing home D's, shares of Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) barely moved Wednesday, sliding only as low as 23 cents, or 1.5% below Tuesday's closing price of 15.69.
What do you expect from a rudderless ship, right? But Yahoo was rudderless -- that is, directionless -- even before Bartz was at the helm, and if Thompson's mushy statement accompanying the earnings report is any indication, he's a long way from figuring out how to reverse Yahoo's slow slide toward irrelevance:
"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."
Could that be any more vague? In the earnings conference call Tuesday afternoon, Thompson wasn't any clearer.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Thompson ... gave no details about his plans for Yahoo. He said in a conference call that he "sees the strength of Yahoo's assets" and "the huge opportunity in front of us."
Mr. Thompson said Yahoo would "consider different revenue streams from what we have today," without elaborating.
That would be a good idea. Since peaking at annual gross revenue of $7.21 billion in 2008, Yahoo's yearly gross revenue has dropped 31% to last year's $4.98 billion. Revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs were $4.38 billion, down 18.9% from $5.40 billion in 2008.
Meanwhile, Google over the same three years has seen revenue grow from $21.80 billion in 2008 to $37.91 billion last year, an increase of 74%.
Yahoo's slowly getting squeezed to death, yet it sounds as if Thompson thinks more of the same -- but better! -- will reverse the company's decline.