YHOO

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO)

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Yahoo! (YHOO)

Q4 2010 Earnings Call

January 25, 2011 5:00 pm ET

Executives

Timothy Morse - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Marta Nichols - Director of Investor Relations

Carol Bartz - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Analysts

Spencer Wang - Crédit Suisse AG

Imran Khan - JP Morgan Chase & Co

Youssef Squali - Jefferies & Company, Inc.

Benjamin Schachter - Macquarie Research

Charles Munster - Piper Jaffray Companies

Justin Post - BofA Merrill Lynch

Douglas Anmuth - Barclays Capital

Ross Sandler - RBC Capital Markets, LLC

Mark Mahaney - Citigroup Inc

Presentation

Operator

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Yahoo! Fourth Quarter 2010 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I will now turn the call over to Ms. Marta Nichols. Ms. Nichols, you may begin.

Marta Nichols

Thank you, Derek [ph]. Good afternoon, and welcome to Yahoo!'s Fourth Quarter 2010 Earnings Conference Call. On the call with me today are Carol Bartz, Chief Executive Officer; and Tim Morse, Chief Financial Officer.

Before we begin, I'd like to remind you that today's call will contain forward-looking statements concerning matters such as our expected financial and operational performance and long-term financial objective, as well as our expectations for the economy, in general, and online advertising, in particular. The financial and operational impact of our Search Alliance with Microsoft and our strategic, operational and product plans. Actual results may differ materially from the results predicted in our statements and reported results should not be considered indicative of future performance. Potential risks and uncertainties that could cause our business and financial results to differ materially from our forward-looking statements are described in our Form 10-Q, filed with the SEC November 8, 2010, as well as in the earnings release included as Exhibit 99.1 to the Form 8-K we furnished today to the SEC. All information discussed on this call is as of today, January 25, 2011, and Yahoo! does not intend and undertakes no duty to update this information to reflect subsequent events or circumstances. On today's call, we'll also discuss some non-GAAP financial measures as we talk about the company's performance. These may include total expenses less traffic acquisition costs, or TAC; revenue excluding TAC or revenue ex-TAC; and operating margin ex-TAC. Reconciliations of those non-GAAP measures to the GAAP measures we consider most comparable can be found on our corporate website, info.yahoo.com, under Investor Relations. We have prepared remarks that will last about 30 minutes, and then we'll have a brief Q&A session with Carol and Tim. With that, I'd like to turn the call over to Carol.

Carol Bartz

Thanks, Marta, and thanks, everybody, for joining us today. We've got lots to cover so let's get started. We just completed a very encouraging quarter and year for Yahoo! We made substantial strides to improve profitability. In Q10 (sic) [Q4 '10], we doubled our operating income, doubled our operating margin, doubled EPS and doubled return on invested capital. We did this while investing aggressively in our major products and the technology to drive our strategy to turn Yahoo! around. And in the process, create value for our shareholders.

The central focus of our plan is simple: increase profitability and grow revenue. To increase profitability, we have to be focused and efficient. To grow revenue, we have to deliver engaging products for users and advertisers. And to achieve our profitability and revenue goals, we have to execute across-the-board. What we've done during the past two years is all directed at these key drivers of success. We've made major strides reinventing our technology platforms so we can innovate and introduce new products and features more quickly than ever before. We've reorganized the company to improve its efficiency and to operate costs effectively. We've brought in some terrific new senior talents. The key to all of this is to deliver great content. That content takes a lot of forms, news, sports, finance, e-mail, search, entertainment and of course, relevant ads. It's what more than 630 million people come to us for every month, and it's what we're best at. It's our place in the online ecosystem, it's who we are. We focus on the aggregation, curation and creation of content, and we do it really, really well. Our direction and innovations are built around our vision of personalized content for each and every user.

Already, these investments are starting to pay off. our U.S. Today module click-through rate is up 36% year-over-year, and we now serve 13 million variations everyday. And engagement among early adopters of our new Mail Beta is more than 50% higher than our legacy Mail products. Our plan is that these new products and technologies will ensure a bright and sustainable future for Yahoo! as a premier digital media company. Now let's turn to 2010 for more detail.

As I noted earlier, we made substantial progress on profitability in 2010 and the quarter. Excluding restructuring charges, our Q4 operating margin ex-TAC went from 13% last year to 21% this year. And our operating income increased to $258 million, up from $159 million. That's above consensus and above the midpoint of our outlook. Revenue ex-TAC also came in ahead of both outlook and consensus. It was down versus Q4 '09, just as we told you it would be due to the beginning of the rev [revenue] share with Microsoft and because of the various businesses we exited that did not fit with our content focus. In fact, without these items, our revenue ex-TAC would have been up 2% and GAAP revenue would have been up 3% for the quarter. Remember, as we discussed last quarter, this is all part of our plan to turn Yahoo! around. We've been working hard to make the company more efficient, expand margins and increase profitability.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com