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Fri, Jul 09, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Q2 profits double, but Yahoo investors still not satisfied


Yahoo Inc's second-quarter profit more than doubled as the Internet giant continued to ride online advertising's rising wave, but the results still disappointed investors hoping for even bigger things.

The California-based company said on Wednesday that it earned US$112.5 million, or US$0.08 per share, up from US$50.8 million, or US$0.0 4 per share, at the same time last year.

Revenue for the three months ended June totaled US$832.3 million compared with US$321.4 million last year.

The earnings matched the mean estimate among analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

In recent quarters, Yahoo has consistently beat analyst expectations so simply hitting Wall Street's earnings target repre-sented a letdown. Management also raised its revenue outlook less aggressively than in recent quarters.

The company projects its revenue this year will range from US$2.46 billion to US$2.54 billion, only slightly above an estimate of US$2.41 billion to US$2.52 billion made three months ago. Those revenue estimates exclude the money Yahoo pays other Web sites in its advertising network.

The company's comeback from the dot-com doldrums has been powered by steady advertising growth as businesses sought to capitalize on the popularity of Yahoo's Web site -- the most popular destination on the Internet.

That trend continued in the latest quarter. Marketing revenue totaled US$691 million, more than tripling from US$219 million last year. The gains largely reflected Yahoo's US$1.8 billion acquisition of Overture Services Inc, which makes money distributing advertising links based on requests entered into online search engines.

"When marketers think of the Internet, more than ever they are thinking of Yahoo," chief executive officer Terry Semel said on Wednesday during a conference call with analysts.

Yahoo also continued to attract more subscribers who pay it for Internet access, expanded e-mail and online matchmaking services.

Yahoo ended last month with 6.4 million subscribers, up from 5.8 million at the end of March. The company has a long-term goal of 15 million subscribers.

As Yahoo stock has nearly quadrupled since the end of 2002, so have the threats from formidable rivals developing more competitive products.

Online search engine leader Google Inc is testing a free e-mail ser-vice offering expanded storage, prompting Yahoo to increase the amount of storage that it offers through its free e-mail service. That move is expected to decrease the number of people willing to subscribe to Yahoo's premium e-mail service.

Without specifically addressing the Google rivalry, Semel assured analysts Yahoo will hold its own, promising that it will make some ``really cool additions'' to its e-mail service.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Corp recently began testing a version of its own online search engine at MSN.com. Semel predicted MSN's migration from Yahoo's search technology will have little financial effect.

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