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Yahoo's Q1 Earnings as Meh as Expected, but China's Alibaba Doing Great!

The Silicon Valley Internet giant met lackluster expectations.

Yahoo pretty much came in on target in the first quarter with what Wall Street had been expecting, earning 38 cents a share on $1.087 billion in revenue. Minus traffic acquisition costs, that meant a pretty weak one percent increase in revenue.

Analysts had estimated that the Silicon Valley Internet giant would report earnings of 37 cents per share on revenue of $1.08 billion, compared to last year’s 38 cents per share on revenue of $1.07 billion.

Revenue from display advertising was up two percent — but at least it was up — to $409 million in the quarter, compared to a year ago. The number of ads sold rose seven percent in that time, while the price per ad declined five percent.

Search revenue saw better returns, up nine percent to $444 million. Paid clicks increased six percent in the period, while price-per-click rose eight percent.

But over in China, the Alibaba Group — Yahoo reports some of the e-commerce giant’s results, since it owns a 24 percent stake — saw revenue rise 66 percent to $3.1 billion, with a 110 percent increase in net income for the fourth quarter to $1.4 billion.

Such results might assuage some concern that Alibaba’s growth had slowed ahead of its much-anticipated IPO in the fall.

Yahoo also announced it had 430 million mobile users, compared to the 400 million it said it had last time it touted its mobile users. But it did not tease out any significant earnings from mobile, which is in stark comparison to Facebook, which now gets about half its sales from the fast-growing arena.

One thing Yahoo has is lots of cash — $4.6 billion (though that is down slightly from a year ago), which roughly translates to one-quarter of a WhatsApp acquisition! The company said that it repurchased 12 million shares for $450 million and used a net $22 million for acquisitions in the first quarter. It has repurchased $6 billion in shares since early 2012.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer used a very convoluted statement to convey that this really lackluster performance was actually good news:

“I am really pleased by our first quarter performance, marking our best Q1 revenue ex-TAC since 2010. Buoyed by our 9th consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth in Search revenue ex-TAC and our first quarter of Q1 year-over-year growth in display revenue ex-TAC since 2011, Q1 was an early and important sign of growth in our core business.”

It is indeed the first small sign of growth in display since 2011, as tepid as it is, so there is that. By contrast, though, Facebook ad revenue in the last quarter was up more than 76 percent and the industry average is 18 percent.

Mayer will be on a call at 2 pm PT to explain it all, but I sadly have to miss it and forgo my usual award-winning live blog about how she will explain it all for you.

To grok it all, here are all the Yahoo charts you will ever need:


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