Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) barely made the Fortune 500 last year, ranking 485th. However, for a company its size, it receives unbelievable press and interest from Wall St. Perhaps that is because Yahoo! is one of the cradles of the Internet world. Perhaps it is because it is still one of the rulers among Internet websites, with an audience just short of Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOG)
Yahoo!’s earnings showed an extremely modest revenue of $1.22 billion, which was up only 4% from the same period in 2011. Net income fell from $296 million to $272 million over the same period. Yahoo! is a small company.
Yahoo! was founded in 1995, long before the age of broadband or mobile devices. For a long time, it was the primary search engine used by most people. When free e-mail was in its infancy, Yahoo!, along with AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) and early versions of MSN, provided the service to millions. As a portal, Yahoo! provided huge amounts of news and other information. The habit of using Yahoo! to find content, access e-mail and search the Web all survived turnovers in management, which seemed to happen every year.
A measure of Yahoo!’s breadth as a destination is its claim that 700 million people visit its sites every month. ComScore data for the United States shows that Yahoo!’s number of unique visitors is 185 million, just shy of Google, but well ahead of Microsoft sites, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) and AOL. Yahoo! remains among the top sites, if not the number one site for financial, sports, news and gossip.
Yahoo! also has provided the press and investors with almost endless drama, with a rejected takeover offer from Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) in 2008. Yahoo! has gone through several CEOs since then, and a turnover of most of its board of directors.
Despite it financial size, Yahoo! has stayed as a staple in the lives of tens of millions of Americans. In that regard, it is like Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO), McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). To the public, Yahoo!’s modest revenue does not mean anything. What the public sees is that Yahoo! is almost everywhere — a brand that many have known for nearly two decades.
Douglas A. McIntyre