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Yahoo Optimistic, Sharks Circling


Lackluster second quarter may mean blood in the water.

Yahoo's (YHOO) been getting a lot of ink lately: This week alone, the Internet stalwart reached a "settlement" in its long battle with Carl Icahn and disseminated its hotly anticipated second-quarter earnings report.

Many thought that the California-based company would fall short of expectations - and on that score, Yahoo certainly didn't disappoint. Net income came in at $131 million or $0.09 per share, as compared with $161 million or $0.11 per share for the same period last year. Analysts had been expecting between $0.10 and $0.11 per share. Net revenue came in at about $1.35 billion, just below analysts' estimates of $1.37 or $1.38 billion.

Despite these numbers, CEO Jerry Yang remained doggedly optimistic, saying that "Yahoo! well positioned for long-term growth and maximizing stockholder value...We are seeing validation that we have the right strategy."

Just what that strategy is, however, is something about which Yang has been consistently vague, and his statements yesterday were no exception. Nowhere did he quantify his expectations, nor did he present a clear vision for the future. Yang also omitted mention of any cost-cutting plans - a topic near and dear to Mr. Icahn, and one he's sure to address.

Icahn abandoned his original proxy battle, which was to be decided by shareholders August 1st, in exchange for a seat on Yahoo's board, along with slots for 2 members of his original 8-person slate.

Yahoo said that it expects its search-advertising partnership with Google (GOOG) to generate as much as $450 million in operating income. The deal cannot begin, however, until the Department of Justice completes an antitrust review currently in progress. Some fear that the deal will only cede more of Yahoo's already dwindling market share to Google.

Though this quarter wasn't as bad as it might have been – especially given the fact that even Microsoft (MSFT) and once-invincible Google also reported lackluster quarters -- Icahn and crew are likely to use these results as evidence that urgent change is needed.

The downbeat numbers may finally force the company to work out some sort of deal with Microsoft - or at least ratchet up pressure on Yang and his board to finally put forth a workable plan for change.

As I said before, stay tuned: Icahn may have called a temporary ceasefire in his battle with Yahoo, but the war is far from over.

Yahoo closed at $21.40, down 27 cents, or 1.25%.
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