By Colleen Taylor
Yahoo (YHOO) today released its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2012, marking the end of a key year for the long-running web portal. Q4 2012 was Yahoo's second full quarter with Marissa Mayer at the helm as CEO, and investors are no doubt looking for real validation that she is steering the company in a positive direction toward recapturing its former status as a web giant to be reckoned with.
The results Yahoo reported today should be some encouragement that things are indeed on the right track. Yahoo said that its fourth-quarter revenues excluding traffic acquisition costs (ex-TAC) were $1.22 billion, and its non-GAAP earnings per share was 32 cents (Wall Street analysts generally evaluate Yahoo's performance using ex-TAC and non-GAAP figures). That's a sequential increase from its third-quarter 2012 revenues of $1.2 billion, but down from its 35 cent EPS from that quarter (which, it's important to mention, were heavily impacted by the Alibaba sale). Year over year, the quarterly results showed an increase both at the top and bottom lines from the $1.17 billion revenue and 24 cent EPS the company posted in Q4 2011.
For full-year 2012, Yahoo's ex-TAC revenue was $4.468 billion and its earnings per share was $1.17. That's a boost from 2011, when Yahoo’s annual revenue ex-TAC was $4.381 billion. Here are the Q4 results compared to Yahoo's past quarters in handy-dandy visual form, thanks to TechCrunch designer and illustrator Bryce Durbin:
Both the quarterly and annual results released today bested what Wall Street had expected. On a quarterly basis, analysts projected that Yahoo's fourth quarter revenues would be $1.21 billion, with EPS of 28 cents. For the full year, analysts projected that Yahoo's revenue would be $4.46 billion and its EPS would be $1.13.
In a press release accompanying the earnings figures, Mayer had the following to say about Yahoo's performance:
I'm proud of Yahoo's 2012 and fourth quarter results. In 2012, Yahoo! exhibited revenue growth for the first time in four years, with revenue up 2 percent year-over-year. During the quarter we made progress by growing our executive team, signing key partnerships including those with NBC Sports and CBS Television, and launching terrific mobile experiences for Yahoo Mail and Flickr. At the same time, we achieved tremendous internal transformation in the culture, energy and execution of the company.
Yahoo's stock price seems to be reacting favorably to the news. Yahoo stock was up some 4.4% in after-hours trading in the minutes immediately following the earnings release.
Today's results show past strengths, but when it comes to the stock market, what investors really want to see is more concrete assurance of future growth. We'll be right there with them tuning into Yahoo's conference call later this afternoon to hear Mayer and Yahoo's other C-level executives go into more detail on how they plan to keep the momentum for the year ahead.