Yahoo!: 'A Show Me State'

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Yahoo! ( YHOO) shares have enjoyed a tremendous run since Marissa Mayer took over as CEO in mid-July. However, she'll need to deliver results to keep moving the stock higher, as Wall Street looks for answers instead of promises.

It's been six months since I said that Mayer was a bad choice for Yahoo!, noting that she had never led a turnaround project as big as this one. The share price appreciation since her hire date says I'm wrong. As One Republic and Timbaland would say, It's Too Late to Apologize.

Third-quarter earnings from Yahoo! were better-than-expected, boosted by encouraging news from its Asian assets, namely Alibaba. Yahoo! shares have significantly outperformed the Nasdaq in the past six months, gaining 26.4%, compared to a 6.48% gain in the tech-heavy index. Core Yahoo!, specifically its content properties, including Sports, Finance, and others, are going to be Mayer's big focus, as she tries to leverage Yahoo!'s enormous traffic (some 700 million monthly users) into revenue growth.

YHOO Chart YHOO data by YCharts

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster is looking for Mayer to detail her plans for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based firm, now that the honeymoon period's ending. " W e believe that Yahoo! is becoming a show me story now that CEO Marissa Mayer has begun to make her impact on the company," Munster wrote in a note.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the company to earn 28 cents a share on $1.21 billion for the quarter. The Estimize consensus is for 31 cents a share on $1.208 billion in revenue.

Mayer has repeatedly said she is trying to focus on the company's mobile experience and personalization, though that process will take much longer than the six months she's been on the job. The CEO's already had one major problem when it comes to mobile, as Fantasy Football suffered a major outage during the season, upsetting millions of users.

One thing Mayer has going for her is the billions in cash Yahoo! received in the deal to sell a part of its Alibaba stake, not to mention to the significant holdings it still has left. Yahoo! had approximately $7.89 a share in cash at the end of the September quarter, according to BGC Partners analyst Collin Gillis. Gillis also noted that the "market value of Yahoo's 35% stake in Yahoo! Japan and approximately 24% stake in was valued on September 30, 2012 at $15.84B, approximately $13.25/share." Those two add up to over $21 per share, suggesting the market is not valuing core Yahoo! at much, if anything at all.

Munster, like many on Wall Street, is looking to see if Yahoo! will talk about how to allocate some of this significant cash hoard towards acquisitions to strengthen its properties. There have been a few small "acqui-hires," including Stamped, an iPhone app purchased in October, and OnTheAir, purchased in December.

The former Google ( GOOG) executive will have to show more detail on her plan to fix the company. J.P. Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth wants to see "more granularity" on how Mayer intends to turn Yahoo! around. In a research note, Anmuth explained that he wants to hear about Yahoo!'s plans to reinvigorate search and display, its investment strategy, new talent recruitment efforts, and what new CFO Ken Goldman has to say. Anmuth rates Yahoo! "neutral" with a $19 price target.

There's also the question of the search deal with Microsoft ( MSFT), which could expire at the end of the first quarter. Mayer has repeatedly said she's happy with the deal, but also noted there's been some disappointment as well. "From my perspective on the strategic alliance, we have been happy working with Microsoft. The teams actually work quite well together. We experienced some disappointment on the monetization side, which is why the revenue guarantee is in place and why we're benefiting from it," Mayer said on the third quarter earnings call.

I want to see the actual results later today before I go writing any apology cards or love ballads.

Interested in more on Yahoo!? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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