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Earnings up, sales flat at Yahoo

Results for new CEO top Street's expectations

Yahoo reported a 28% rise in first-quarter earnings of $286 million on $1.08 billion in sales, which were flat.

The period, which wrapped March 31, marks the end of the first full quarter for Yahoo’s new CEO Scott Thompson, who took the top spot at the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company on Jan. 4. Results beat Wall Street’s expectations.

“In the first quarter, Yahoo’s results came in at the high end of our guidance range and beat consensus on revenue and profits,” Thompson said. “We also made changes to resize the organization and establish a new leadership structure to quickly deliver the best user and advertiser experiences at scale.”

Display-ad revenue decreased 4% to $471 million during the quarter, while revenue from search came in at $384 million, up 8%.

Since taking over Yahoo, Thompson has sought out ways to save $375 million a year and laid off around 2,000 staffers. Co-founder and former CEO Jerry Yang left the board.

Yahoo’s divisions are now focusing more on consumer, technology and regions, and the Web giant is joining its rivals in launching original entertainment programming.

Yahoo recently bowed a slate of comedy shows including “First Dates With Toby Harris,” featuring Seth Morris (Funny or Die); “Sketchy,” from Ben Silverman’s Electus and Principato-Young Entertainment; and “7 Minutes in Heaven,” with “Saturday Night Live” scribe Mike O’Brien (Broadway Video).

It also debuted the ABC-produced daily series “Power Players” on Yahoo News, featuring an ABC and Yahoo News analyst team, and “Remake America,” a weekly video series that follows the lives of six families as they strive to get back on track toward achieving the American dream.

It still has a sizable audience it can entertain: Yahoo attracts around 700 million uniques each month.

Worldwide traffic during January and February grew 7% year over year, with minutes spent on media properties rising 8% and communications and communities up 14%, according to comScore.

The Yahoo board also tapped five new independent directors, all with entertainment ties: Alfred Amoroso, former president and CEO of Rovi Corp; John D. Hayes, exec VP and chief marketing officer of American Express; Peter Liguori, former COO of Discovery Communications and former Fox Broadcasting Co. chairman and prexy; Thomas McInerney, former CFO of IAC/InterActiveCorp; and Maynard Webb, chairman of LiveOps.

Shares in Yahoo closed up 1.5% on Tuesday at $15.01, joining Wall Street’s rally. The stock has lost 6% of its value since the beginning of the year.

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