Why Analysts Still See Big Upside in Yahoo Despite the Critics

If you only listened to outside investor pundits or activist investors in the financial media, you might be tricked into thinking that Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) is on the brink of implosion. You might also get tricked into thinking that CEO Marissa Mayer hasn’t done anything or tried to do anything, or that there is just no real value to the company. Well, despite all the woes and criticism, some people still think there is a lot of value left in Yahoo!

It turns out that many analysts on Wall Street still see really big upside here. Some of the analysts trimmed their price targets after the most recent earnings report. Still, many of them see Yahoo worth $40.00 or more. And the lowest price target from all analysts is still above the current share price, now that the stock is down from its highs so much. It also turns out that not everyone wants Mayer out as CEO.

Despite the media telling you that nothing happens on the desktop personal computer (PC) any longer, the reality is that the desktop is not the future of growth — but don’t count out all those people at work with big screens and all the people with home-based offices just yet. There are just some serious limitations to how much media and information some of us want to consume from our smartphones and from tablets.

24/7 Wall St. wanted to look at both sides of the case with Yahoo. This is not meant to be an article that Yahoo shares are only very undervalued, nor that the stock will instantly rise back from the $28 level to much higher. The stock market is an odd bird, highly driven by sentiment. Any market panic or continued negative sentiment could lead Yahoo shares lower. Still, the analysts and many investors think Yahoo! is worth a lot more than its current price. Two sides to a story.

Layoffs and executive departure come with a price. That cannot be ignored, even if the bulls just want to focus on the upside scenarios.

Does size still matter? The critics would have you believe that Yahoo is nearly no longer ranked at all. Well, Yahoo is still the fifth highest ranked Internet property in the United States, according to Alexa. That is behind giants like Amazon (4), YouTube (3), Facebook (2) and Google (1). Its reorganization also will be more focused with fewer properties.

Many investors and pundits also have been critical about how the exit of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NASDAQ: BABA) unwind has gone. Not so fast. Mayer was actually the first CEO in recent years that was able to even get it where that Alibaba value could actually be unlocked. Another issue is that tax code prevention or limitation for a spinco is sort of hard to blame on a CEO. Then there are limitations of repatriation of capital overseas from a tax code that penalizes U.S. companies, versus how other countries allow their companies to operate.

After the close of trading on July 16, 2012, is when Yahoo announced that Mayer was taking over as president and chief executive officer. She took up the reins the following day. One thing that all the critics and activists do not tell you about is that Yahoo shares were trading at $15.65 at that time. At about $28.00 now, this means that shares are still up almost 80% under Mayer’s leadership. For a comparison, the S&P 500 dividend-adjusted price performance of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEMKT: SPY) is up almost 50% since that same date.

Another issue that has always come up is that not enough people have been let go. Well, some CEOs probably don’t want to be remembered as the greatest hatchet-person in Silicon Valley. Firing people by the thousands is no simple task. Having the nickname “Chainsaw” or “Neutron” is not what a lot of people have in their lifetime goals and aspirations.

There is more to the story on earnings and the strategic alternatives, but Yahoo did marginally grow revenues on a GAAP basis. Its fourth quarter was $1,273 billion (versus $1.253 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014) and the full-year revenue in 2015 was $4.968 billion (up from $4.618 billion in 2014).

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