Termination costs among quarterly lapses

Yahoo launched the Carol Bartz era Tuesday by announcing a quarterly loss of $303 million due to termination costs and bad investments.

Under the new chief exec, who took over two weeks ago from returning boss Jerry Yang, the Web giant posted a 1% dip in revenue to $1.8 billion, which was at the low end of a range execs predicted in October. Execs said currency fluctuations late in the period prevented what would otherwise have been a 3% rise in sales.

Without the charges connected to laying off 1,500 workers, the company would have recorded a profit.

Layoffs hit 10% of the staff, and the company ended the year with 13,600 employees.

Bartz announced a forecast for first-quarter revenue of $1.53 billion-$1.73 billion, down from $1.82 billion in the year-ago frame. The company declined to predict profits.

The numbers weren’t especially rosy, especially compared with Google’s 18% revenue jump in the same period. Still, the results exceeded analysts’ estimates and persuaded many investors that Yahoo is in better shape than previously thought.

Yang’s return engagement leading the company after Terry Semel’s exit was marked by a failure to consummate a planned merger with Microsoft. Yahoo held out for a higher per-share price that was several times its current low-teens level.

Bartz has confirmed she recently met with Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer, but she wouldn’t disclose details of their conversation. Media reports have said the merger talks were heating up again.

During a conference call with analysts to discuss the numbers, her first in her new post, Bartz hailed the “wonderful energy, a real can-do attitude” among her troops.

Yahoo shares, which have plunged more than 50% over the past year, gained 17¢ during the session (before the earnings news) to close at $11.34 and gained a further 41¢ in extended trading.

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