Yahoo shares fell 15 percent today as hopes for the once-dominant Internet icon dimmed following Microsoft's withdrawal of a $47.5 billion takeover bid. The...
SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo shares fell 15 percent today as hopes for the once-dominant Internet icon dimmed following Microsoft’s withdrawal of a $47.5 billion takeover bid.
The sell-off wiped out nearly half the gain in Yahoo’s stock price since Microsoft made its initial offer on Jan. 31 in an effort to challenge online advertising and search leader Google. The downturn left Yahoo’s market value about $13 billion below Microsoft’s last offer.
Last-ditch talks between Yahoo and Microsoft were fruitless, leading Microsoft to walk away from a deal Saturday.
Yahoo shares closed down $4.30, or 15 percent, to $24.37, below Friday’s close of $28.67, when investors were still hopeful about a deal.
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Despite the backlash, analysts doubt Yahoo shares will fall back to their $19.18 pre-bid price, partly because some investors may still be holding out hope that the software maker will renew its takeover attempt if Yahoo continues to struggle.
Microsoft shares slid 16 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $29.08.
Shares in Google went up 2.3 percent, or $13.61, to $594.90. The company not only averted a marriage it had fiercely objected to but also began discussions that could lead to a long-term advertising partnership with Yahoo, a deal made more likely with Microsoft’s withdrawal. Any Google-Yahoo alliance, though, would likely face antitrust hurdles.
Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang remained convinced that the company he started in a Silicon Valley trailer 14 years ago, was worth more than the money Microsoft had offered.
Now he may have only a few months to convince Wall Street that his rebuff of Microsoft’s takeover bid was a smart move — and if he can’t, analysts won’t be surprised if Yang is either replaced as CEO or forced to consider accepting a lower offer if Microsoft comes knocking at his door again.
“This squarely puts the pressure on Jerry Yang to deliver results and shareholder value,” Standard & Poor’s equity analyst Scott Kessler said. “You are going to see a lot of shareholders just throwing in the towel because they are going to realize it’s going to take awhile for the stock to get back to where it was Friday.”
In a posting Sunday night on Yahoo’s blog, Yang welcomed the added pressure. “We know the spotlight will probably stay on us for a while,” Yang wrote. “That’s fine — we have a clear path ahead and momentum to build on.” He added that the Microsoft saga had turned Yahoo into “a stronger, more focused company with an even greater sense of purpose.”
Yahoo shares finished last week at $28.67, slightly less than the $29.40 per share that Microsoft was offering before Chief Executive Steve Ballmer agreed to raise the offer to $33 a share in a last-ditch effort to get a deal done.
Disillusioned shareholders are bound to question whether the rejection of Microsoft’s sweetened offer was driven more by emotion and ego than sound business sense.
“Clearly there’s frustration,” said Darren Chervitz, co-manager of the Jacob Internet Fund, which owns Yahoo stock. “I am not even sure if Yahoo cares about its shareholders because they didn’t show much regard for shareholders’ best interests in this process.”