Yahoo earnings up on Alibaba sale

CEO Marissa Mayer emphasizes restructuring plans to hone focus

Yahoo earned a whopping $3.16 billion last quarter from selling its stake in China’s Alibaba Group as new CEO Marissa Mayer assembles a team and a vision for the Internet giant.

Yahoo has had four CEOs in the past two years. In July, Mayer replaced interim chief executive Ross Levinsohn, who had been running Yahoo’s media and ad sales business for the Americas and had considered the frontrunner before Mayer’s surprise appointment. Yahoo faces tough competition in its mail and search business even as it grows in entertainment, with online series and films like Tom Hanks’ “Electric City” and Anthony Zuiker’s “Cybergeddon” making a splash.

The company’s reach is enormous. Yahoo said it had over three billion page views for the 2012 London Olympic Games across devices.

Yahoo said $2.8 billion in profits reflected a gain on proceeds from the Alibaba sale, part of a strategic restructuring. It earned $293 million in the year-ago quarter. Excluding Alibaba, earnings were still up year-over-year and shares rallied in after-hours trade, up nearly 3%.

Revenue slipped 1% to $1.2 billion.

Net revenue, a figure that excludes fees paid to website partners and is widely followed, ticked up to $1.09 billion from $1.07 billion.

Display revenue was flat at $452 million. Search revenue rose 11% to $414 million.

The Alibaba deal included $6.3 billion in cash, $800 million worth of preferred shares and a $550 million payment for a technology licensing deal. Yahoo has said it plans to return 85% of the payout to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks.

“Yahoo had a solid third quarter, and we are encouraged by the stabilization in search and display revenue,” Mayer said. “We’re taking important steps to position Yahoo for long-term success, and we’re confident that our focus on quality and improving the user experience will drive increased value for our advertisers, partners and shareholders.”

Mayer flurry of exec appointments since he took the helm at Yahoo have included Ken Goldman, from security tech firm Fortinet as CFO, Henrique de Castro as chief operating officer, Ron Bell as general counsel, Jacqueline Reses as exec VP of HR and development and Kathy Savitt as chief marketing officer.