Yahoo!: 'A Show Me State'
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Yahoo! (YHOO) shares have enjoyed a tremendous run since Marissa Mayer took over as CEO in mid-July. However, she'll need to deliver results to keep moving the stock higher, as Wall Street looks for answers instead of promises.
It's been six months since I said that Mayer was a bad choice for Yahoo! , noting that she had never led a turnaround project as big as this one. The share price appreciation since her hire date says I'm wrong. As One Republic and Timbaland would say, It's Too Late to Apologize .
Third-quarter earnings from Yahoo! were better-than-expected, boosted by encouraging news from its Asian assets, namely Alibaba. Yahoo! shares have significantly outperformed the Nasdaq in the past six months, gaining 26.4%, compared to a 6.48% gain in the tech-heavy index. Core Yahoo!, specifically its content properties, including Sports, Finance, and others, are going to be Mayer's big focus, as she tries to leverage Yahoo!'s enormous traffic (some 700 million monthly users) into revenue growth.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster is looking for Mayer to detail her plans for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based firm, now that the honeymoon period's ending. "
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the company to earn 28 cents a share on $1.21 billion for the quarter. The Estimize consensus is for 31 cents a share on $1.208 billion in revenue.
Mayer has repeatedly said she is trying to focus on the company's mobile experience and personalization, though that process will take much longer than the six months she's been on the job. The CEO's already had one major problem when it comes to mobile, as Fantasy Football suffered a major outage during the season, upsetting millions of users.
One thing Mayer has going for her is the billions in cash Yahoo! received in the deal to sell a part of its Alibaba stake, not to mention to the significant holdings it still has left. Yahoo! had approximately $7.89 a share in cash at the end of the September quarter, according to BGC Partners analyst Collin Gillis. Gillis also noted that the "market value of Yahoo's 35% stake in Yahoo! Japan and approximately 24% stake in Alibaba.com was valued on September 30, 2012 at $15.84B, approximately $13.25/share." Those two add up to over $21 per share, suggesting the market is not valuing core Yahoo! at much, if anything at all.
Munster, like many on Wall Street, is looking to see if Yahoo! will talk about how to allocate some of this significant cash hoard towards acquisitions to strengthen its properties. There have been a few small "acqui-hires," including Stamped, an iPhone app purchased in October, and OnTheAir, purchased in December.