UPDATE 2-Yahoo's fourth-quarter revenue slides as ad prices dip again

Tue Jan 28, 2014 5:37pm EST

By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO Jan 28 (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc's online ad prices slid again in the fourth quarter and Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant in which it owns a big stake, saw revenue growth decelerate from its recent rip-roaring pace.

Overall revenue fell 6 percent in the last three months of the year to $1.266 billion, marking four consecutive quarters of eroding revenue. The company said that prices for both online display ads and search ads declined in the fourth quarter.

The company's shares were down 5.8 percent at $36 in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

"Normally you get better pricing in Q4," said BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis. "The core business is shrinking."

Yahoo's efforts to revamp its slumping business have come to the forefront following Chief Executive Officer's Marissa Mayer's decision to fire Chief Operating Officer Henrique de Castro this month, after only slightly more than a year on the job.

The move marked the first major change of plans since Mayer took the helm in July 2012, and underscored Yahoo's ongoing challenge to rekindle revenue growth.

Mayer has moved aggressively to kick-start the company with product makeovers, acquisitions and big media hires, including celebrity newswoman Katie Couric. But the ad sales business continues to struggle at a time when rivals such as Google , Facebook and Twitter are posting strong revenue growth.

Yahoo's quarterly results also included some of Alibaba's financial results from the third quarter because it owns about 24 percent of that company.

The Chinese company's revenue increased 51 percent year-over-year to $1.776 billion. While still robust, that growth rate was slower than the 61 percent clip that Alibaba delivered in the second quarter.

Many investors are interested in the performance of Alibaba, which is expected to have an initial public offering in the future.

Yahoo's net income of $348.2 million rose from the $272.3 million earned in the year-ago period. Excluding certain items, Yahoo said it earned 46 cents a share, beating the average analyst expectation of 38 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Yahoo said that revenue from display ads was down 6 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter, while the price per ad, excluding Korea, declined 7 percent.

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