Yahoo slightly edged out Wall Street’s reduced financial expectations for the first quarter of 2016, as CEO Marissa Mayer claimed the company has made “substantial progress” on strategic alternatives including a potential sale.
Total revenue for the quarter ended March 31 fell 11%, to $1.087 billion, as Yahoo’s search and display-ad businesses continued to falter. The Internet company reported net revenue of $859 million excluding traffic-acquisition costs — down 18% — and adjusted earnings of 8 cents per share, a 42% drop from a year ago. Analysts had expected net revenue of $847 million excluding TAC and adjusted EPS of 7 cents.
For the first quarter, Yahoo reported a net loss of $99.2 million, compared with a net profit of $21.2 million in Q1 2015. The company posted an operating loss of $167 million for the period, versus a loss of $87 million a year earlier.
“Our 2016 plan is off to a solid start as we continue to focus on driving efficiency, lowering costs and improving long-term growth,” Mayer said in announcing the results. “In tandem, we made substantial progress towards potential strategic alternatives for Yahoo. Our board, our management team, and I are completely aligned on this top priority for shareholders.”
Expected bidders for Yahoo’s core business include Verizon Communications, which last year acquired AOL and is seen by Wall Street as the leading strategic candidate. Others reportedly throwing their hats into the ring include YP Holdings, the ad company formerly known as YellowPages.com owned by AT&T and Cerberus Capital Management, and venture-capital firms including TPG and Bain Capital together with Vista Equity Partners.
On a call with investors Tuesday, Mayer said the Yahoo board and management is making the sales process a top priority, often holding several calls and meetings per day. “We have been responsive and engaging,” she said. Mayer also said Yahoo has met with “some of the most well-known and respected names in the industry” over the last two months. The company disclosed that it spent $8.98 million in advisory fees in Q1.
Besides evaluating potential buyers — and trying to turn around the company’s finances — Yahoo and Mayer are facing a proxy fight for control of its board of directors. Investor Starboard Value has nominated nine candidates for election to Yahoo’s board, with voting set to occur in late June at the annual shareholders meeting.
In February, Yahoo said it would cut its workforce by 15% this year, and it also confirmed that it was exploring strategic alternatives including a possible sale.
In the first quarter, Yahoo reported $57.2 million in restructuring charges. CFO Ken Goldman said the company now has about 9,200 employees, down 42% since the beginning of 2012 (and down from 9,400 at the end of Q1 2016).
For the first quarter of 2016, Yahoo’s display advertising revenue was $463 million, down 1%, and search revenue was $492 million, a year-over-year decline of 9%. The company paid search partners, including Google and Microsoft, $144 million during the quarter, up 44% from a year ago. Yahoo said it sold 8% more display ads in the most recent quarter, but price per ad fell 6% year over year.