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Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson to Wall Street: Trust Me

The internet giant’s new chief says it’s too early for details of his strategic plan after latest round of lackluster earnings is reported

New Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson had a message for Yahoo shareholders Tuesday.

In essence, it's "Trust me."

In his first public appearance since Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang quit the company, Thompson acknowledged that "there's no question we need to do better, and we will." 

Also read: Ousted CEO Carl Bartz: Yahoo 'F—ed Me Over'

He said Yahoo was no longer for sale but would proceed in its effort to sell of its Asian assets. And at least for now, he seemed to throw cold water on any hopes investors might have had for a major alliance.

Thompson said he and the board had looked at a number of strategic options and was "open to anything that would benefit shareholders" but said it was "too early to lay out details." 

Thompson's remarks were unlikely to sit well with impatient shareholders who had blasted Yang for blocking deals that could have transformed the company. Yang's abrupt departure came only two weeks after Yahoo appointed Thompson its new CEO. 

The former Pay Pal chief executive said he understood his vague answers on his strategic goals might frustrate shareholders. Shares were down 1% to $15.53 in late trading.

"I actually feel a little bit bad that I'm two weeks and two days into it and can't tell you more," he said, "but please accept that getting our … business headed on the right course and articulating a strategy for the future of the business is what I spend all my waking moments on." 

Thompson spoke after the release of the company's lackluster fourth quarter earnings report, which showed net revenue and profit off slightly. Yahoo said it took in $296 million in net income in the three months ended January 31, or 24 cents a share, compared with $312 million, or 24 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

The earning figure edged analysts' projections of 23 cents, but fell just short of Wall Street's revenue estimates for the fourth quarter. Net revenue, which excludes fees it shares with web partners, came in at roughly $1.17 billion, compared with $1.2 billion the same time last year.

Thompson said he wanted "to end the debate" about whether Yahoo fits with media companies or tech companies. "We are both a media company and a tech company. We must do both, end of the discussion."

Nonetheless, he said Yahoo's proprietary data might be leveraged to create new revenues. "Our data may be Yahoo's single most underrated, under-appreciated and under-used asset," he said, and intimated that might be an area in which an acquisition might be on the burner.

"I suspect there will be places we don't have the technology today or the capabilities today" and we will "have to be fairly aggressive," he said. 

Thompson has taken the helm of a company that was one of the Internet's early search giants, but has since fallen on hard times. Though it retains a large user base and generates a great deal of revenue, its net value has dropped by more than 50 percent in the past few years while its advertising business has slipped behind Google and Facebook.

While Thompson's predecessor Carol Bartz refocused Yahoo's efforts on content — particularly in the sports and finance sectors — and left search to one-time foe Microsoft, her new plan did not have the intended effect of increasing profitability.

Sale rumors have swirled since Bartz' departure, with supposed suitors including private equity firm Silver Lake and another ailing early industry leader, AOL.

Back in 2008, Yahoo resisted a takeover attempt by Microsoft, with whom it later struck an advertising search partnership. 

Yahoo on Tuesday also projected that its net revenue in the first quarter would range between $1.025 billion and $1.105 billion.