Google boosters probably aren't feeling quite so lucky today.
A day after Yahoo! ( YHOO) blew the doors off its first quarter, investors were loudly celebrating the Net media giant's triumph over its much-ballyhooed competition. And comments from Yahoo! executives only underscored the giddy feeling. Late Wednesday, financial chief Sue Decker discounted the looming threat from closely held Google. In an interview with TheStreet.com, she emphasized the strength and breadth of Yahoo!'s offerings, qualities she said the company had honed over years of customer dealings. Decker added that neither the money Google might reap from a widely expected IPO nor the customers it could win with a new email service would prove problematic for Yahoo!. "Competition isn't new," said Decker. "We've had quite a few big competitors in our space for quite a while." Decker's comments came as Yahoo! ran a victory lap celebrating the first-quarter financial results released after the market's close Wednesday. Revenue, operating cash flow and earnings trounced analysts' most optimistic forecasts, sending the already upwardly-mobile stock up even higher. While analysts spent Thursday morning issuing notes with rewritten expectations for the company, shares in Yahoo! rose $7.55, or 15.6%, to trade at $55.90. At that price, the stock is about two-and-a-half times its year-ago 52-week low.
Yahoo!'s primary objective is to focus on user experience, says Decker. She says the company is having success integrating various assets, including different "verticals" -- subject areas and activities -- such as personals, careers, music and shopping. Yahoo! is able to personalize and integrate those features, she says, "in ways that our competitors who don't have all those things can't do." On Friday, analysts were busy raising estimates and figuring out where things had gone so right for the company. Merrill Lynch analyst Andrew Slabin, for one, attributed the surprisingly good performance to such factors as "robust Internet fundamentals," particularly in sponsored search and branded advertising; strong international performance, helped by the integration of search in several regions, and the expansion of Yahoo!'s user base.