Yahoo! shares rise after Semel’s talk

Co. to roll out digital music service, B2B offerings

NEW YORK — Shares of Internet portal Yahoo! climbed nearly 8% Thursday after chief exec Terry Semel sought to reassure the audience of a Gotham investment conference that the company would ride out the current advertising drought in cyberspace.

Nevertheless, the former Warner Bros. studio boss reiterated his prediction from a recent Yahoo! earnings report that the online ad market was not likely to improve substantially “until at least the second half of next year.”

Advertising less critical

Speaking at Goldman Sachs’ “Communacopia X” confab in midtown Manhattan, Semel said advertising, which currently accounts for virtually all of Yahoo!’s revenue, will become less critical as the company rolls out new offerings. They’ll include consumer subscription services like the digital music service Pressplay, as well as online marketing, cyber-conferencing and other business-to-business offerings.

Semel also emphasized the company’s strong balance sheet, with $1.7 billion in cash and little debt on the books, and added that Yahoo! “will look to make some acquisitions” in the near future — though he declined to specify in what businesses.

Exec brushed off questions as to whether that substantial cash position, coupled with a precipitous decline in Yahoo!’s stock over the last year, might make the company itself a takeover target, asserting that it has plenty of room to expand on its own.

Yahoo!’s Nasdaq-listed shares rose 77¢ to $10.68 in Thursday’s trading.

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