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Yahoo forecasts revenue growth up to 10 percent

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc said it could return to double-digit revenue growth in the next few years, as the Internet pioneer revamps its network of websites to attract users and advertisers in a shifting Internet industry.

Yahoo told analysts at a briefing on Wednesday that its net revenue growth between 2011 and 2013 would average between 7 percent and 10 percent as opposed to the roughly 13 percent revenue decline that it experienced in 2009.

“Yahoo has its focus. It is excited about its future and it has its pride back,” Chief Executive Carol Bartz said at the company’s analyst day briefing which took place in San Jose on Wednesday.

Finance Chief Tim Morse said that Yahoo’s operating profit margin between 2011 and 2013 would range between 18 percent and 24 percent.

Yahoo notched an 11.8 percent operating margin in the first quarter, and Morse had said in October that Yahoo expected to lift operating margins to 15 percent to 20 percent by 2012.

Bartz, Morse and other Yahoo top brass outlined a variety of initiatives designed to revive the company’s growth, from its Internet search deal with Microsoft to a partnership with Zynga, the maker of social networking games like FarmVille.

Yahoo claims more than 600 million global users and plans to add more social media, video and local content to its properties as a way of growing its revenues.

Search accounts for one-third of Yahoo’s revenues; the remainder come from display advertising on its network of sports, entertainment and finance sites, and fees from partnerships with companies such as Internet service providers.

Bartz assured analysts that Yahoo’s revenue-sharing deal with Microsoft, where Microsoft is providing the search technology, would not result in the cannibalization of its customer base.

The company demonstrated new email features it said would allow users to interact directly with their friends on other social media such as Facebook.

Yahoo has been reorganizing its business, shedding assets and acquiring new companies under Bartz, who began her current role in January 2009.

But the company has struggled to deliver results.

Since September, when Yahoo began a $100 million advertising campaign, unique visitors to Yahoo websites in the United States declined 2.6 percent to 155.6 million in April and total page views declined 11.4 percent, according to comScore, an Internet analytics company in Reston, Virginia.

In contrast, its search rival Google had 175.7 million unique visitors and 46 billion page views in the United States in April. And its rival in the social media space, Facebook had 121.8 million unique views and 50.2 billion page views for that month.

Yahoo’s share of the U.S. search market improved slightly last month after roughly a year of losing ground.

Bartz signed a 10-year deal with Microsoft in July to save hundreds of millions of dollars a year in expenses by shifting Web indexing chores to Microsoft while Yahoo focuses on improving searching

“You will see search all over the frickin’ place,” said Bartz, the former CEO of Autodesk, who made headlines on Monday after using profanity in rebuking a blogger who was interviewing her before a New York audience.

Yahoo executives said the company expects to complete integration of its search technology with Microsoft in all 59 countries in which it operates by the second quarter of 2012.

Some analysts and investors have expressed concern that Yahoo is offsetting cost savings from its deal with Microsoft by spending money on other parts of the business.

Bartz defended the spending, explaining that Yahoo needed to retrofit many of its websites, a process she said would go on until the summer of 2011.

Shares of Yahoo, which finished Wednesday’s regular session up 14 cents, at $15.45, were up 12 cents in after hours trade.

Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic, editing by Leslie Gevirtz

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