Yahoo’s new chief Mayer outlines revival plans

Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer has sketched out her plan for revamping the mobile and search advertising business, outlining publicly for the first time her vision for getting the ailing web company back on its feet.

Ms Mayer, once a rising star at Google who took charge at Yahoo in July, told analysts on a conference call she wanted to focus Yahoo’s efforts around the “daily habits” of users such as email, the home page, internet search and mobile devices.

But her top priority is to fashion a coherent strategy to manage the industry’s transition to mobile devices, a fundamental shift that some of the most innovative Silicon Valley companies – from Facebook to Google – are struggling with.

“The mobile wave is a huge wave for us to ride,” Ms Mayer said on the conference call.

Ms Mayer, 37, underscored her determination to turn around Yahoo by returning to work just a few weeks after having her first baby. Her son Macallister was born on September 30, the final day of the third quarter.

The CEO talked about working more closely with software provider and web search partner Microsoft, while employing technology to shore up its display ads business through such features as automated buying.

She added that the company is likely to begin withdrawing from international businesses that fail to grow. This month, executives said the company will pull out of South Korea, a market full of local rivals.

Yahoo shares were up around 4 per cent at $US16.46 in after hours trading on Monday.

Roughly 700 million users visit a Yahoo website every month – putting it in the top ranks globally. But the amount of activity people engage in on many sites is steadily declining and its smartphone offerings are deemed lacklustre.

Hiring Ms Mayer was widely viewed as a coup for Yahoo’s board, after a succession of five CEOs over the last five years failed to reverse a slide in the company’s ad revenue and stock price.

A veteran Google executive, trained as a computer scientist, Ms Mayer has cultivated a public image as both hard-nosed manager and glamour-girl engineer. Magazine profiles tout her enthusiasm for spreadsheets as well as designer fashion, while noting that she oversaw key products during a period of tremendous growth at Google.

Shifting couse

Ms Mayer is expected to focus on revamping Yahoo’s technology and products, shifting course from the media-centric approach embraced by her immediate predecessor, Ross Levinsohn.

The company’s quarterly earnings beat expectations, but Wall Street had been keen to hear Ms Mayer outline her plan for reviving the struggling Web company’s revenue growth.

“We know they’ve done a bunch of house cleaning,” said Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser. “Everyone’s focused on what’s in the call; what’s the orientation of the management team for the long term. The company has reset and any color they give on the call is paramount.”

Excluding a $US2.8 billion gain related to the sale of Alibaba Group shares, Yahoo said it earned $US177 million in income from operations and adjusted net earnings of 35 cents per share in the third quarter.

Analysts were looking for adjusted EPS of 25 cents.

Net revenue, which excludes fees paid to partner websites, was $US1.09 billion compared with $US1.07 billion in the year ago period.

Yahoo ended the quarter with 12,000 employees, down more than 12 per cent from 13,700 a year earlier.

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