Updated from 8:36 a.m. to include thoughts from FBN Securities in the tenth paragraph.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- "Help, I need somebody/Help, not just anybody/Help, you know I need someone, help" -- The Beatles
In light of the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' arrival in America, I thought it was only appropriate to start this article off that way. Yahoo! (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer didn't exactly take my suggestion on buying Yelp (YELP). However, she's reportedly done the next best thing: partner with it.
Over the weekend The Wall Street Journal reported that Yahoo! is going to partner with San Francisco-based Yelp for local search, incorporating Yelp's listings into Yahoo!'s search engine. Yahoo! currently partners with Microsoft (MSFT) on search, and is the only part of Yahoo!'s core business that is currently growing.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, Yahoo! noted search was the standout performer, as revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs, or TAC, rose 8% to $461 million. Paid clicks, excluding Korea, rose 17% year over year, but the price-per-click fell 3% compared to the fourth quarter of 2012.
By comparison, Yahoo!'s Display business continues to falter. Display revenue fell 6% from last year to $491 million during the fourth quarter, as the number of ads rose 3% year over year but prices continued to decline, falling 7% from the fourth quarter of 2012.
Mayer has previously said she expects that turning core Yahoo! around (excluding the 24% stake in Alibaba and 35% stake in Yahoo! Japan) will take at least three years, if not more. Partnering with Yelp is certainly a step in the right direction, though it is not the be all end all, despite Yelp's presence on mobile, a key focus area for Mayer.
Last year, I had suggested that Yahoo! buy Yelp, as Yahoo! has continued to focus on local and mobile, making it more of a priority. By parterning with Yelp, which is seeing advertising revenue explode, Yahoo! differentiates itself from Google (GOOG). Currently, Google incorporates Yelp reviews into its own search, and it is not known at this time whether the deal is exclusive or not, though I suspect it's not.
Shares of Yelp were running in early Monday trading, gaining 3.9% to $92.92, while Yahoo! was gaining 0.19% to $37.30.