Mayer skips call but still drowns out Yahoo earnings

Yahoo(s yhoo) took a hit on layoff costs in the second quarter but still showed a small profit, eking out tiny single-digit increases in some meaningful metrics while keeping search from falling off a cliff. In a word, it was flat compared to the same quarter in 2011.
It’s hard to find a lot of meaning in any of that, especially when the top business highlight in the earnings release is Monday’s hiring of new CEO Marissa Mayer. The quarter that ended June 30th included the start of a major re-org, layoffs and the ousting of Scott Thompson, the CEO who set both in motion, as well as six weeks under interim CEO Ross Levinsohn. (That anyone could function at all in the midst of that, much less make some improvements, is a minor corporate miracle.)
But it’s also a snapshot of what Google vet Mayer faces as she takes over the company and the landmarks she’ll have to keep in mind as she maps out Yahoo’s future:

  • Revenue was down one percent over Q211 to $1.2 billion but excluding traffic acquisition costs was flat at $1.08 billion.
  • Americas, the group Levinsohn was responsible for before the reorg and subsequent changes, managed a slight increase in revenue excluding traffic costs but EMEA was down 11 percent. Asia was up four percent.
  • Owned-and-operated search was up 7 percent; affiliate search revenue was down but Morse said during the earnings call that decrease was related to a fee issue with Yahoo Japan and otherwise would have been up. The “core US search” metric was down 17 percent.
  • Unique users — up in double digits for three of the four 2011 quarters — showed very little growth, up only 2 percent in Q2, based on comScore.
  • Yahoo continues to lose pageviews from its communications and communities, down 11 percent, and from search, down 13 percent. Pageviews were up 5 percent for media but minutes on the site were down 10 percent while communications and communities was up 8 percent. (See chart below.)
  • Profit excluding $136 million in restructuring charges was flat too — $190 million compared to $191 million last year. Earnings per share of $0.27 was up 47 percent sans charges. With the charges, it was $0.18 or up 2 percent.
  • Yahoo ended the quarter with 12,500 employees, down 7 percent from 13,400.

Mayer started her new job Tuesday but skipped the earnings call, which was conducted instead by CFO Tim Morse. He assured analysts and investors Mayer thinks they’re important and promised she’d be reaching out to the investment community soon, then warned that he wouldn’t be able to answer much about Yahoo’s plans or offer guidance for Q3.
Asked how investors should view Mayer’s hiring as a sign of where Yahoo is headed, Morse replied, “We are very happy to have such a topnotch CEO in place,” adding that it’s going to take “a little bit of time” to work through exactly what it means to have a tech lead for the company. He also tried to be reassuring on the media front: “We have exceptional and deepening media expertise as well. … You’ve got to combine them. It’s powerful when we get it right.”