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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Yahoo Exceeds Sales & Profit Estimates

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO), the biggest U.S. Web portal, reported profit and sales that beat estimates as Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer benefited from advertising demand and cost cuts during her first three months on the job.

Third-quarter earnings, excluding some items, were 35 cents a share, the Sunnyvale, California-based company said in a statement. Sales, excluding revenue passed to partner sites, was $1.09 billion. Analysts on average had estimated profit of 26 cents on revenue of $1.08 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The fifth CEO in four years, Mayer is working to restore stability to management ranks and reverse three years of declining revenue as Web users ditched Yahoo in favor of competitors Google Inc. (GOOG) and Facebook Inc. (FB) Her turnaround effort is getting a boost from expense reductions as well as demand in the U.S., where the online advertising market is projected to grow 17 percent to $37.3 billion this year, according to researcher EMarketer Inc.

“The U.S. seems to be an area of strength, and Yahoo is bigger in the U.S.” than its competitors, said Herman Leung, an analyst at Susquehanna International Group who has a neutral rating on the shares.

Yahoo advanced in extended trading. The stock decreased less than 1 percent to $15.77 at the close in New York. The shares have dropped 2.2 percent this year.

Net income attributable to Yahoo rose to $3.16 billion, or $2.64 a share, from $293.3 million, or 23 cents, a year earlier. Income in the 2012 period included a net gain of $2.8 billion related to the sale of a stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Ad Revenue

Revenue for display advertising, minus sales passed to partner sites, was little changed at $451.6 million in the quarter, while search revenue increased 11 percent to $414.1 million.

In a departure from past practice, Yahoo didn’t provide an outlook for sales and operating income. Google, Mayer’s former employer, doesn’t issue earnings forecasts.

Mayer has kicked off her Yahoo comeback strategy by hiring several senior deputies. Earlier this month she named Henrique de Castro, previously Google’s vice president of global partner business solutions, as operating chief. Last month, she hired Ken Goldman away from network-security provider Fortinet Inc. to replace Tim Morse as chief financial officer. In August, Mayer added former American Eagle Outfitters Inc. executive Kathy Savitt to lead marketing efforts.

Yahoo’s share of display ads, including banners, will be 9.3 percent this year in the U.S., down from 11 percent last year, EMarketer estimates. Facebook’s portion of the market will be little changed at 14 percent, while Google’s stake will rise about 2 percentage points to 15 percent.

Mayer has taken steps to curtail operations outside the U.S. She completed Yahoo’s sale of half its stake in Chinese partner Alibaba in September, and last week said Yahoo will shut its South Korea business.

Yahoo said it will return $3 billion in proceeds from the Alibaba transaction to investors, after using $646 million for buybacks in recent months.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New Ebay Website Design Launches

Story first appeared on

EBay is hurtling into the digital age with a new logo, major redesign and aggressive plans to wade deeper into daily deals, search and shipping.

The most striking change is the visual, Pinterest-like home page "Feed," which lists brands that users follow and makes suggestions based on their browsing history and past purchases.

Feed rolls out to U.S. customers over the next 100 days, with international launches beginning in early 2013.

EBay's decision to mothball its stodgy, stale old site in favor of larger photos and more white space is a reflection of the changing tastes of younger, mobile-savvy users. Some 105 million people actively use the site.

The moves underscore fundamental changes in eBay's business model. Today, more than 70% of 350 million items listed are new. "It's the evolution of our service and how customers use it," eBay President Devin Wenig said in a phone interview.

Industry watchers say the changes are necessary, as more consumers opt for smartphones and tablets instead of PCs. "We believe every online experience will become organized around individual users and their preferences," says Jon Ehrlich, co-founder of social-commerce company Copious.

The Feed announcement comes after eBay in August launched Lifestyle Deals, a Groupon-esque daily deals service in San Francisco, Chicago, New York and elsewhere.

On Wednesday, the company unveiled eBay Now, an app that offers "on-demand delivery service" of goods from local stores. The service is available only in San Francisco, but more cities are expected to be added soon.

Amazon offers "local express delivery" for some items in major cities.

EBay's search also underwent a makeover, with an autocomplete feature similar to Google's. Users can personalize their search results for particular items. Learn more about Google SEO.

The news sent eBay shares up 1.2%, to $46.76, in trading Wednesday.

Wenig hinted that more is to come. "We will continue to make shopping more intuitive, more convenient and more relevant," he said. "This is just the beginning."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Google Closer to Being Sued Over Internet Search Dominance

Story first appeared on

Federal regulators are moving closer to suing Google web giant over allegations the company abuses its dominance of Internet search to stifle competition and drive up online advertising prices, news reports said late Friday.

Several news outlets reported that staff members at the Federal Trade Commission are preparing to recommend that the agency file an antitrust lawsuit against Google (GOOG).

A majority of the five FTC commissioners would have to approve a suit before legal action could proceed.

Reports from The New York Times, Bloomberg News and Reuters news service cited unnamed people briefed on the FTC's probe. FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan declined to comment.

The agency has been investigating the business practices of Google, which is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif. The company's shares closed down $6.73, or 0.9%, to $744.75 Friday. The shares fell another $2.48 in after-hours trading. In a mostly down market, Google shares have fallen 3% the past week and are 9% below the stock's record high.

The probe was triggered by complaints that Google has been featuring its peripheral services closer to the top in search result displays and relegating offerings from rivals lower on result display pages.

The FTC also has been looking into whether Google rigs search results in a way that makes companies with websites pay higher fees to promote their services through Google's advertising network.