In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom catch up on the many highlights from earnings season announcements, beginning with those by possible dance partners Comcast and Time Warner Cable and what their news might mean for Comcast’s takeover bid. They also take the market temperature on Viacom and tech giants led by Google — which sold off its Motorola Mobility unit after owning it just two years — and Facebook, Apple, Yahoo and Amazon. They also look at exhibitors’ demands for shorter movie trailers and whether studios will play along.
There’s something in the filing that’s making investors anxious. Yahoo shares are down more than 4% in post-market trading even though, on its face, the company’s Q4 results either matched or exceeded the Street’s expectations. On an as-reported basis, net income came in at $351.7M, +87.1%, on revenues of $1.26B, -6%. Without traffic acquisition costs, revenue came in at $1.2B, -2%. Analysts expected revenues of $1.2B. Adjusted earnings at 46 cents a share topped forecasts for 38 cents. It’s clear why CEO Marissa Mayer recently dumped COO Henrique de Castro after seeing the anemic ad sales number for the quarter. Not including traffic acquisition costs, display ads fell 6%to $491M. Although the number of ads sold increased 3% vs the same period last year, the price per ad fell 7%. Search revenue was up 8% to $461M with a 17% increase in paid clicks somewhat offset by a 3% drop in the price per click. “I’m encouraged by Yahoo’s performance in Q4 and 2013 overall,” Mayer says. “We saw continued stability in the business, and our investments allowed us to bring beautiful products to our users and establish a strong foundation for revenue growth.”
Here’s how the results look:
In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom take up Charter Communications’ $61.3 billion bid for Time Warner Cable; the potential impacts of an appeals court ruling throwing out FCC net neutrality rules; a stalling home-entertainment industry and Best Buy’s bad holiday. They also look at the surprising shakeup at the top of Yahoo, coming as it does just a week after the company’s big CES shindig. Now at least one much ballyhooed hire departs 15 months later after arriving and there are reports that at least another top executive is out.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline Executive Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom download the highlights from this week’s massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
They look at Yahoo’s splashy preview of its new tech, news and food sites with a presentation that reminded David L. of a network advertising upfront; discuss highlights from David L.’s talk with TiVo CEO Tom Rogers on the current shortcomings and future opportunities in TV; grapple with the WWE’s move to online subscription video; and dial into T-Mobile’s highly entertaining and potentially transformative tactics that could re-arrange the mobile phone industry.
They also peer at the physical and likely fiscal limits of the latest savior for consumer electronics companies, the 4K Ultra HD TV; and prompt a review of Michael Bay’s rather sudden departure from the stage during a Samsung presentation.
Katie Couric, Summly founder Nick D’Aloisio, former New York Times tech writer David Pogue, SNL‘s Cecily Strong and Kenan Thompson, and musician John Legend joined the Yahoo CEO at her International CES keynote to tout the company’s info and entertainment offerings. “Media has long been one of Yahoo’s key strengths,” Marissa Mayer says. Couric — the recently named Global Anchor, who’s celebrating her birthday — lamented that in the digital age “at times accuracy has been a casualty of immediacy.” She vowed to uphold “core values of old-fashioned journalism” in her interviews with “anyone who we believe has an important and interesting story to tell.” D’Aloisio charted a slightly different course as he announced the Yahoo News Digest. The iPhone and iPod Touch app will provide users with two daily news summaries created from multiple sources that will be “comprehensive, effortless and complete.” Mayer also introduced Yahoo Digital Magazines, beginning with Yahoo Food promising ”immersive, bite-sized content” (was her word play intentional?) and Pogue’s Yahoo Tech. The gadget critic shouted through his presentation, during which he vowed to present tech news for ordinary people. The magazine will cover subjects that concern 85% of the population. “We have a language we’re going to speak and it’s called English” — he intends to dispense with jargon terms such as “form factor,” “price point,” and “content.”
UPDATE: I’m told that there’s less than meets the eye to the ballyhooed “access” Yahoo says it will offer to “all of NBCOlympics.com’s exclusive digital video rights.” That simply means Yahoo will have links to the NBC site — not streams of the programming itself.
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Katie Couric officially is heading online with a Yahoo deal that had been rumored for months. The Web giant announced this morning the Couric will serve as global anchor beginning in 2014, working with “a growing team of global correspondents who will report on live world events, anchor groundbreaking interviews with major newsmakers and thought leaders, and much more.” Said Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, “Katie’s depth of experience, her intellectual curiosity, and her charisma make her the perfect choice to anchor Yahoo News and the whole Yahoo Network.” Couric and Yahoo executives are still in the early stages of developing ideas for what the scope of her presence will be, with town hall meetings among a number of interactive possibilities. Why taking on an Internet gig? “I’ve done pretty much everything else in television up until now — I hosted the Today show, I anchored the CBS Evening News and I’ve done a syndicated show,” Couric told Deadline. “If you look at the next frontier where content is going and how people are consuming it, it is in the digital space.” Couric is not new to the space, having launched the @KatieCouric online interview show while at CBS News and utilizing Twitter and Facebook questions on her syndicated show. “I like the idea of unlimited real estate, doing interviews that are interesting to a global audience.”
By signing with Yahoo, Couric ended a few months early her agreement with ABC News, which was part of the Disney-ABC package for her syndicated talk show. Couric, who has done little for ABC News in the past year while working on her show, is not severing ties completely. “It is still a very symbiotic relationship,” she said. “As ABC News has said, it wouldn’t be surprising if they would utilize my content on their platform.” (ABC News has an online partnership with Yahoo.) A partnership that is not in the cards, at least for now — with CNN and Couric’s former producer Jeff Zucker.
ABC News and Katie Couric are breaking up. Couric, meanwhile, is close to a deal with Yahoo which would include doing an interview show for the Internet giant. Yahoo, ironically, has a news-sharing contract with ABC News.
ABC News was on the hook for a much smaller portion of Couric’s reported $20 million paycheck with the company than is the syndication operation, with which she has a deal for her daytime talk show Katie. The ABC News gig was seen by some as a vanity thing tacked to her talk show by those who have noted she’s not done much for ABC News in the past year. Anyway, it’s no longer the case that ABC News will be paying part of her paycheck.
“Katie is an incredible journalist and this was an opportunity that she couldn’t pass up. Thanks to the powerful association between ABC News and Yahoo we know that Katie will continue to work closely with us and welcome her on our air anytime,” an ABC News exec with knowledge of the situation told Deadline. Yes, it sounded pretty don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out to us too.
Couric’s talk show is now in its second — and, it’s been widely speculated for some time, final — season, though syndication axes don’t generally fall until after all November sweep stats are in. The show has been plagued with exec producer changes and shifts in direction since its initial good launch, and station execs are not happy with the product. Most expect the show to end its run after fulfilling its two-year commitment with the ABC Stations in May. There had been speculation that ABC might try to get another year at a lower price while preparing a replacement, but that does not appear likely.
Shares are up 1.6% in after-market trading following the announcement. Yahoo disclosed the additional repurchase authorization as part of a larger finance plan that includes the raising of $1B in debt. The company says that it will privately sell …
Everyone in the nexus of the world where consumer electronics and media meet seems to have an opinion about this following the announcement on Monday that The Times’ gadget critic is headed to Yahoo to create a splashy new consumer tech site. …
This is a coup for Yahoo. David Pogue has spent 13 years critiquing gadgets for the Gray Lady, becoming one of its brand-name writers. In the process he also has become a familiar presence on CBS Sunday Morning and the host of PBS’ NOVA ScienceNow. Yahoo says that he will now “lead a major expansion of consumer tech coverage on Yahoo and will publish columns, blog posts, video stories and more, starting later this year.” CEO Marissa Mayer weighed in, saying that her company is “in a unique position to bring to life great editorial about the technology consumers are using every day.” Pogue says in a blog post that in addition to his writing he’ll continue “making my goofy videos. But my team and I have much bigger plans, too, for all kinds of online and real-world creations.” While he characterizes Yahoo as an “underdog,” he now believes that the company is “young, revitalized, aggressive — and, under Marissa Mayer’s leadership, razor-focused, for the first time in years….She’s overseen brilliant overhauls of several Yahoo sites and apps, and had the courage to shut down the derelict ones.” The New York Times circulated an internal memo that wishes him well in his new gig.
The stock price initially popped more than 4% in post-market trading as investors took a first look at Q3 results that were down from last year — but not as bad as some anticipated. Yet those gains quickly evaporated as they saw the details about the company’s generally anemic performance. Profit comparisons are skewed by last year’s $2.8B gain from the sale of shares in Alibaba Group. With that included, net income fell 91% to $297M on revenues of $1.13B, -5%. The revenue figure topped the $1.08B that analysts expected — and would match it if you take out traffic acquisition costs. Adjusted earnings at 34 cents a share slightly beat the 33 cents consensus forecast. Investors who hoped to see improvement in sales of display ads may be disappointed. Not including traffic acquisition costs, display revenues fell 7% to $421M following a 10.6% drop in Q2 and 11.4% decline in Q1. The number of ads sold in Q3 increased 1% vs the period last year while the price per ad fell 7%. The search business ended up generating $426M not including traffic acquisition costs, +3%, with paid clicks +21% but price-per-click -4%.
Global Showbiz Briefs: UK To Charge Ex-Newspaper Staffers In Bribery Scandal; Yahoo Taps Dawn Airey For SVP Post; More
Ex-Daily Mirror, Sun Staffers Among 9 Charged In Bribery Scandal
Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said today that nine people would be charged in relation to allegations of illegal payments to public officials. Among them are former Daily Mirror journalist Greig Box-Turnbull, and ex-Sun staffers Graham Dudman, John Troup and Vince Soodin. Box-Turnbull is being called up on two charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office with regard to alleged payments to prison officers for information. The prison officers also are being charged as co-conspirators. Dudman is alleged to have requested the authorization of payments to one or more police officers and to have authorized payments to public officials in his capacity as Sun managing editor. Troup is charged as a co-conspirator. Soodin will be charged with conspiring with a police officer to commit misconduct in public office. The remaining defendants are a police officer and a hospital employee. All will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 5. The new charges come a few days after the revelation that Scotland Yard is actively investigating Sun owner News International (now News UK) for possible criminal violations related to the phone-hacking scandal and allegations of illegal payments. News UK is the British press arm of News Corp.
Dawn Airey Tapped As Yahoo’s SVP Europe, Middle East And Africa
Yahoo has appointed UK television veteran Dawn Airey as SVP Europe, Middle East and Africa. Beginning November 1, Christophe Parcot, who has served as Yahoo’s interim lead of EMEA, will take on a new role focused on expanding the web giant’s business in the region. Airey joins Yahoo from RTL Group. She has also held high-level executive positions at Five, ITV, BSkyB and Channel4.
The companies hinted in December, when they announced a sports content alliance, that we’d see collaborative programming arrangements like the two announced today. This week they’ll introduce Fantasy Football Live — Thursday Night, …
Listen to (and share) episode 44 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s financial editor talks with host David Bloom about Time Warner Cable’s week all over the news; Yahoo’s billion-dollar buyback from Daniel Loeb; Amazon‘s skyrocketing content costs; and Facebook‘s skyrocketing share prices.
Looks like Yahoo is more concerned about the Third Point founder’s intentions than everyone let on early this week when they announced that the company would pay $1.16B for 40M of Daniel Loeb’s shares, bringing his stake below 2%. …
Yahoo shares are down more than 3% this morning after the company said that it has bought back most of the shares owned by Third Point’s Daniel Loeb — leading him and colleagues Harry Wilson and Michael Wolf to resign from the board at the end of this month. ”Since our Board’s rigorous search led us to hire Marissa Mayer as CEO, Yahoo!’s stock price has nearly doubled, delivering significant value for shareholders,” Loeb says. “I’m confident that with Marissa at the helm and her team’s focus on innovation and engaging users, Yahoo! has a bright future.” The agreement to buy 40M of Loeb’s shares, at $29.11 apiece, will bring his stake in the company below 2% — and will count toward the company’s plan to repurchase $1.9B of its stock. Loeb is an investor in Variety with Deadline’s parent company PMC.
The sale makes sense for Loeb, the billionaire founder of hedge fund Third Point. He’s a value investor who likes to engage in deep research and then bet on relatively boring companies and assets that others overlook. Few would consider Yahoo undervalued after its stock appreciated 77% in the last 12 months. And the company is far from overlooked with former Google exec Mayer at the helm. The sale gives Third Point cash to devote elsewhere — possibly including Sony where Loeb is urging the company to issue stock in its movie, TV and music assets. (He wants Sony to hang on to about 80% and let the public trade the remaining 20%.) Meanwhile, Third Point remains a major shareholder in Yahoo.
But Yahoo shareholders may fear that once Loeb and his colleagues leave the board, the company may use the proceeds from the interest it sold in Alibaba to buy assets — like it just did with its $1.1B deal for Tumblr — says Barclay’s Capital’s Anthony DiClemente.
Here’s the release: