It's a good thing the fight with Icahn is over and the back-and-forth with Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has gone on the back burner, so we don't have to overdramatize Yahoo's (NSDQ: YHOO) earnings report tonight (e.g. "Yahoo is fighting for its life as Jerry Yang orders what may be his last meal while a Sword of Damocles hangs over his head..."). The company's future probably doesn't hinge on this report, at least not immediately. The other good news for them is that expectations seem pretty low. After Google's (NSDQ: GOOG) ho-hum report and the bad ad numbers from Microsoft, it's hard to imagine Yahoo hitting it out of the park. Consensus estimates, according to Bloomberg, are for the company to report revenue of $1.37 billion, for growth of 11 percent, and net income of $140 million. As always, watch for the outlook and any hints of where advertising will go over the next few quarters.
In a note sent out this morning, Deutsche Bank's Jeetil Patel called for revenue of $1.385, though he's wary on the second half of the year: "...online ad weakness could still be ahead. We believe that a lack of re-investment into product development (which helps grow traffic/usage) may place pressure on traffic trends, and subsequently
online ad revenues." Lehman's Doug Anmuth is also raising ad concerns: "For the quarter, we project O&O display to grow 16% Y/Y to $462 million, but this projection is likely too optimistic given signs of a softening display market and Yahoo!'s large exposure as the industry leader." As for the total display business, Anmuth is calling for growth of 25 percent, but notes that the company is getting a boost from new partners, like WebMD (NSDQ: WBMD), eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) and Comcast.
Bottom line: Count the number of times you hear some version of the phrase "macro headwinds" on tonight's call. The fewer the better. Right now, investors aren't too excited about this evening: shares are down over 3.5 percent already, as they make a beeline back to the $20 mark.
By Joseph Weisenthal