Yahoo’s latest disappointing quarter pretty much sums up the past few years

Yahoo missed its earnings expectations by just a hair, and the company once again wrote down Tumblr. The stock went nowhere.

That is pretty much the story of Yahoo for the past few years. Yahoo’s core business has been in decline for some time. Even before Marissa Mayer‘s takeover in 2012 the company was on a pretty clear march south. Mayer’s hiring sparked some hope in the company that new leadership would right Yahoo’s direction and return it to growth. After all, Yahoo had a strong core brand and a large existing audience.

Today’s earnings report seems to basically be an exclamation point to what is soon to be the end of the story of Yahoo as a publicly traded company. Instead of the story of a potential turnaround for Yahoo, the story for the past few months is who will end up buying Yahoo’s core assets. This may indeed have been the last time Yahoo will report its financials, and it’s not surprising that it was kind of a meh result.

The company for its second quarter reported earnings of 9 cents per share on revenue of $1.31 billon. The company also said it was reporting a $395 million non-cash goodwill charge related to Tumblr (meaning, once again, it’s writing down the acquisition). Analysts were expecting earnings of 10 cents per share on revenue of $1.08 billion. Revenue last year was $1.24 billion with earnings of 16 cents per share.

Sure, there was a beat on revenue, but the company also generated $246 million in additional net cash proceeds through the sale of its Santa Clara real estate, the company said. Excluding traffic acquisition costs, revenue was $841.2 million — compared to analyst expectations of $839.6 million. Traffic acquisition costs more than doubled, up from $200 million to $466 million in the second quarter this year.

Mayer’s investments in various acquisitions, including the $1.1 billion acquisition of Tumblr — which was pretty much written off amid a batch of layoffs — weren’t successful in returning the company to growth. Instead, it’s seen stagnant interest in the company’s core business and declining performance of its core assets. The past few years have been punctuated by an increasing focus on mobile activity and search, dotted with layoffs and periodic misses as its core business declines.

“In addition to our efforts to improve the operating business, our board has made great progress on strategic alternatives,” the company said as part of its earnings announcement.

Instead of a turnaround, most of the excitement around owning Yahoo’s shares has been the company’s large stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Yahoo’s $36 billion market cap is largely thanks to an early decision made by Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang to buy up a stake in Alibaba, which is currently worth more than $200 billion. That incredible value gave Mayer a lot of overhead and cash — thanks to a sale of part of its stake — to initiate her turnaround plan.

On the year, shares of Yahoo are down around 4.5 percent.

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