Yahoo!'s CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Yahoo! (YHOO)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 17, 2012 5:00 pm ET

Executives

Unknown Executive -

Scott Thompson - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Timothy R. Morse - Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Ross Sandler - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Brian J. Pitz - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Mark S. Mahaney - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Spencer Wang - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Anthony J. DiClemente - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Bo Nam - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Ronald Josey - ThinkEquity LLC, Research Division

Benjamin A. Schachter - Macquarie Research

Carlos Kirjner - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division

Lloyd Walmsley - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

James Lee - Credit Agricole Securities (USA) Inc., Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Yahoo! First Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Please note that this conference is being recorded. I will now turn the call over to June Ha [ph]. Mr. Ha [ph], you may begin.

Unknown Executive

Thank you, Chanel. Good afternoon, and welcome to Yahoo!’s First Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. My name is June Ha [ph], and the new leader of the Investor Relations team here at Yahoo!. On the call today will be Scott Thompson, Chief Executive Officer; and Tim Morse, Chief Financial Officer.

Before we begin, I would like to remind you that today's call may contain forward-looking statements concerning matters such as our expected financial and operational performance and our long-term financial model; as well as our expectations for the economy in general and online advertising in particular; our Search Alliance with Microsoft; our capital allocation decisions; our restructuring costs and benefits; and our strategic, operational and product plans. Actual results may differ materially from the results predicted in our statements, and the reported results should not be considered indicative of future performance.

Potential risks and uncertainties that could cause our business and financial results to differ materially from our forward-looking statements are described in the Form 10-K with the SEC, February 29, 2012, as well as in the earnings release included in Exhibit 99.1 to the Form 8-K we furnished today to the SEC. All information discussed on this call is as of today, April 17, 2012, and Yahoo! does not intend and undertakes no duty to update this information to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

On today's call, we'll also discuss some non-GAAP financial measures as we talk about the company's performance. These may include total operating expenses, less traffic acquisition costs or TAC, revenue excluding TAC or revenue ex-TAC and operating margin ex-TAC. Reconciliations of these non-GAAP measures to the GAAP measures we consider most comparable can be found on our corporate website, info.yahoo.com, under Investor Relations.

We have prepared remarks that will last about 30 minutes, and then we will have a brief Q&A session. And with that, I'd like to turn the call over to Scott.

Scott Thompson

Thanks, June. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you all for joining us today. We've been moving very quickly on a number of initiatives since we last spoke. During that time, I've become more convinced than ever of the value of our assets, the potential of this business and what we can do to make the most of Yahoo!'s huge market opportunity. I'll have a lot to share on that, but we'll start today with a discussion of our first quarter results. Then we'll talk about what we're doing to refocus Yahoo! on its core business and our renewed focus on our customers, the users and advertisers that are vital to Yahoo!'s future.

First, on Q1, we're pleased that revenue and profits were higher than we expected, costs were lower than expected and we beat consensus across the board. And we're encouraged that revenue grew year-over-year for the first time since the third quarter of 2008. But I want to be very clear. I'm not satisfied with the pace of top line growth and I won't be satisfied until we're growing at least in line with the market.

Taking a brief look at our performance in Search and Display, Search came in ahead of our expectations, driven by higher RPS. The majority of our Q1 gains were driven by changes Yahoo! made to the Search experience that drove higher click-through on our Search ads. While Microsoft has continued to enhance its algo in paid search technology, the Search Alliance is not yet delivering what we expected. I'm personally working with Microsoft to ensure the alliance does deliver going forward and meets our high expectations for user experience, advertiser ROI and revenue for Yahoo!.

Turning to Display, revenue was down versus last year and a bit lower than our expectations. We've got a few wins on engagement Display, like the growing engagement on Yahoo! News, driven by our partnership with ABC News, and by Yahoo!'s social bar. We also see some positive signs on monetization, with the stabilization of our U.S. sales force and renewed partnerships with some important advertisers. But let me be very clear that our Display business is no way close to where it needs to be in any of our 3 regions. Hundreds of millions of people engage on Yahoo!'s homepage, Mail and other marquee media properties, and we must improve monetization and achieve higher returns from that engagement.

Looking at overall growth by region, Americas and APAC drove the top line in Q1, up 2% and 5%, respectively. Our smallest region, EMEA, felt the impact of macro dislocations in the region, with revenue down 9% year-over-year. Costs [ph] came in much lower than we expected, so overall operating income was above the range we gave you in January. EPS were up 38% year-over-year due mostly to improvements and our equity interest line. I have more to share about the actions we took in Q1 and our future plans, but first I'd like Tim to provide more detail on our Q1 results, our Q2 guidance, as well as the financial framework we're using to manage the business going forward.

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