Updated from 4:52 p.m. EST
Driven by a variety of business initiatives, Internet media survivor
beat estimates for 2002's fourth quarter and raised them for 2003.
But Yahoo!'s stock, which has doubled since October, fell 80 cents, or 4%, in after-hours trading Wednesday to trade at $18.78.
For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, Yahoo! said revenue rose 51% from a year ago to $285.8 million -- near the high of the guidance the company gave in October, and ahead of the $278.6 million consensus estimate from Thomson Financial/First Call. On a same-store basis -- that is, excluding revenue from the HotJobs service acquired in early 2002 -- revenue rose 39% year over year.
Fourth-quarter earnings, according to generally accepted accounting principles, amounted to $46.2 million, or 8 cents per share, reversing the year-ago 2-cent loss. Analysts had forecast a 6-cent profit in the latest period.
"We just finished Act One, and much more is yet to come," said CEO Terry Semel on a conference call with analysts.
Advertising revenue, which amounted to 62% of fourth-quarter sales, grew primarily through Yahoo!'s sponsored search business -- mainly, pay-per-click search listings provided through an agreement with
. Separately, Semel told analysts that traditional advertising sales grew sequentially in each quarter of 2002.
Fees and listings, which accounted for 32% of the quarter's revenue, grew 65%, thanks to the HotJobs acquisition and more paying customers for the company's existing services in the category, such as Yahoo! Personals and the Internet service provider business offered in conjunction with
Transactions revenue grew 45% to $19 million for the fourth quarter, driven primarily by an increased number of transactions enabled by Yahoo! and a change in Yahoo! Store pricing from fixed fee pricing to a transaction-based system.
Looking forward, Yahoo! raised 2003 revenue guidance from a range of $1.075 billion to $1.175 billion up to a range of $1.145 billion to $1.215 billion. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization -- a common media-industry financial yardstick -- went from a range of $250 million to $300 million to a range of $295 million to $330 million. Those numbers don't take into account Yahoo!'s pending acquisition of
Yahoo! forecast that marketing services revenue, or traditional and pay-per-click advertising, would grow 20% in 2003; fees and listings revenue will grow 30%, says Yahoo!, thanks to strength in for-pay personals, mail and Internet access services.
Addressing Yahoo!'s goal of increasing its revenue per average user per month, Chief Financial Officer Sue Decker said the company had reaped 46 cents per customer per month in the fourth quarter, up from 42 cents in the third quarter and 35 cents in the fourth quarter of 2001. The company had 2.2 million individual customers paying for services at the close of 2002, up from 400,000 a year earlier.