Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Not Serious About Selling Core Assets: Analyst

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Not Serious About Selling Core Assets: Analyst
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Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) has earned multiple price target cuts following last night’s earnings report and big news about restructuring and plans to again move toward a reverse spin while also considering other “strategic options.” It seems that at least one firm isn’t convinced that management will actually consider selling the company’s core assets, which is a key question for investors as many analysts think a sale is the best possible option at this point as management has been unsuccessful in righting the sinking ship.

Yahoo posts a “nice beat,” but…

Riley analyst Sameet Sinha noted that Yahoo’s fourth quarter results were better than expected but added that the 2016 guide was a little worse than expected. The Internet firm posted net revenues of $1.27 billion, beating the consensus of $1.19 billion (although some estimates put the consensus higher), and adjusted earnings of 13 cents per share, which was in line with the consensus. On a GAAP basis, the company posted huge net losses of $4.44 billion as a result of a goodwill impairment.

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Adjusted EBITDA was $214.7 million, compared to the consensus of $189 million driven by better-than expected Display revenue, which came in at $471 million, compared to the consensus of $434 million. Unfortunately, however, lower gross margins offset this strength.

For the first quarter, management guided for net revenue to fall 16% year over year, which was worse than the consensus of a 4% decline. The adjusted EBITDA margin was guided at 16%, which again was lower than consensus at 20%. Sinha thinks that these guides could be conservative but adds that they must see sustained evidence of this. He also trimmed his price target for Yahoo from $35 to $33 a share.

Is Yahoo management really serious about considering a sale?

On the news that Yahoo is considering strategic options, the B. Riley analyst thinks management isn’t really serious that they’re considering a sale of the company’s core assets. On the earnings call, they emphasized that they’re again focusing on the reverse spin (which they backed away from recently). Management said they will “engage in qualified strategic proposals,” but Sinha isn’t buying it.

“This to us means overtures will be returned but no concerted effort will be made to pursue a sale,” the analyst wrote. “By our assessment, these proposals could be dead in the water as management could shoot down all of them if pricing is below their internal valuation. So unless an acquirer becomes hostile, the markets will never hear about proposals,” he added.

Other price target cuts

In addition to the price target cut from B. Riley, Yahoo also earned other price target cuts. Cowen and Company analysts trimmed their target from $35 to $32. Credit Suisse analysts also trimmed their target, cutting it from $47 to a still Street-high $46 per share.

Interestingly, Macquarie Research analyst Ben Schachter continued to rate Yahoo at Outperform and cut their target to $33. He also doesn’t buy this new turnaround plan, saying that he won’t “give them the benefit of the doubt on this one” since all the other plans have failed. He added that it “sounds reasonable,” however, and sees the mobile monetization goal as being the most important out of all the given goals, although he doesn’t see how the company can possibly maintain or gain mobile search share.

Activists to remain engaged: Barclays

Starboard Value went activist on Yahoo some time ago and has been clamoring for changes, and Barclays analyst Paul Vogel doesn’t think last night’s earnings report will hush them. True, the company said it will reduce its workforce by 15% in addition to considering strategic proposals, but he doesn’t think those bits of news will be enough to satisfy activists’ quest for value, especially since management said they will continue pursuing the previous plan of separating from the Alibaba and Yahoo Japan stakes.

Vogel seems a little more confident that Yahoo really will consider offers because of the efforts to streamline itself, which could potentially attract a buyer. He adds though that if this is what management is doing, it will take two or three quarters for these changes go into effect. He continues to rate Yahoo stock at Equal-Weight with a $35 price target.

Shares of Yahoo plunged today, falling by as much as 6.88% to $27.06 per share.

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