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Scoff All You Want, Yahoo! Investors Are Getting Rich

Stocks in this article: FB GOOG MSFT YHOO

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Counting out a colossus like Yahoo! (YHOO) for the flavor of the week is Investor Folly 101.

Yahoo! surrendered the top spot for desktop web traffic to former number two Google (GOOG), according to the most recent ComScore data. The competition has waged for years with Google as the leading website. Microsoft (MSFT) and Facebook (FB) are number three and four respectively.

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer has been on the job for less than two years after being recruited her away from Google. When Yahoo! pulled ahead of Google last year in this metric, it appeared Mayer was making quick progress, but the stock is down nearly 4.4% for 2014 at $35.90 after the bell on Friday.

Also, most of the past 52-week gains result from investment appreciation rather than operational improvements. For investors, this means the waiting game continues, while being more acceptable after last year's soaring stock rise. If you missed the first leg higher, you still have time. The era of missing operational profits should be ending.

Battleships don't turn around on a dime and neither will the market's second-largest website. Those willing to allow Mayer a year and then demand results are either disingenuous with their portfolios or don't understand that results tend to come after the second or third change to fix an original problem.

The truth is Mayer hasn't been on the job long enough to effect meaningful improvements that are quantifiable on a balance sheet or income statement. Even so, the trend is clearly moving upward.

Ignore the spike higher from investment gains and focus on the underlying trend of the chart.

YHOO Net Income (Quarterly) Chart

The chart above represents net income, and it's noteworthy because future income expectations is a primary stock price driver. The current forward earnings multiple is about 20. (The market is pricing the stock at 20 times the expected earnings during the next year.) This is misleading because the lion's share of market capitalization is based on investments in Chinese internet commerce giant Alibaba and Yahoo! Japan.

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