Yahoo beats Q1 forecasts thanks to paid services

Yahoo Inc. reported first-quarter 2003 earnings that were above expectations Wednesday as the Internet company continued to drum up revenue from its growing paid services.

Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo reported earnings per share of US$0.08 on revenue of US$283 million for the quarter ended March 31, compared to a loss of US$0.09 per share on revenue of US$192.7 million for the same period last year.

The revenue figure represented a 47 percent increase over the first quarter of last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call predicted earnings of US$0.06 a share on revenue of US$273.7 million for the quarter.

The company even topped its own forecasts, given that it predicted upon release of its fourth-quarter 2002 results that revenue for the first quarter would come in between US$255 million and US$275 million.

Net income came in at US$46.7 million, compared to a net loss of US$53.6 million for the year-ago quarter.

"We've made tremendous progress in the first quarter," Yahoo Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Terry Semel said during a conference call to discuss the results Wednesday.

Semel pinned the progress on a 38 percent increase in revenue from marketing services and 61 percent growth in income from fee-based services compared with the same period last year.

Fee-based offerings, including the DSL and dial-up services offered through the company's alliance with SBC Communications Inc., brought in US$63.7 million during the quarter.

"We've seen strong, balanced performances and we are laser-focused on maintaining growth," Semel said.

The results come on the heels of some significant launches during the quarter, including a premium audio and video service and a music subscription service. Additionally, a new Yahoo Search was unveiled just Monday.

Yahoo hopes that its search service along with its other newfangled offerings will allow it to further diversify its revenue stream and build upon existing money makers such as its classified listings, personals service, and premium mail offerings.

Given the strong first quarter performance, the company raised its full-year 2003 revenue target, predicting that it would bring in from US$1.22 billion to US$1.28 billion.