The best news for Yahoo shareholders just came: A profit report with actual profit, and (at least so far) an earnings call with little to no drama.
That sigh of relief you hear is coming from Yahoo stockholders; the clapping you hear is for new CEO Marissa Mayer, who seems to be guiding the ship back to health.
"In 2012, Yahoo! exhibited revenue growth for the first time in 4 years, with revenue up 2 percent year-over-year,” Mayer said in a statement. “During the quarter we made progress by growing our executive team, signing key partnerships including those with NBC Sports and CBS Television, and launching terrific mobile experiences for Yahoo! Mail and Flickr. At the same time, we achieved tremendous internal transformation in the culture, energy and execution of the company.”
The Sunnyvale-based company's fourth quarter sales and profits topped analysts estimates: Revenue, or sales, rose 4 percent to $1.22 billion. Profit was 32 cents a share.
According to Forbes, analysts had predicted that sales would be $1.2 billion and the profit would be 28 cents a share.
With company shares rising since Mayer took over, it's a solid and important step to get through a three-month earning cycle without any bad news. Mayer has been purposefully gliding under the radar since taking over, doing very little in the way of press, and pulling off one of corporate America's smoothest (and quickest!) maternity leaves we've ever seen.
But the numbers really shine: earnings up, especially when it comes to lucrative search revenue.
That puts Yahoo back on competitive ground with search companies like Google and Twitter - not out of the woods yet, but back in the hunt, with Mayer now able to focus on mobile technology (where there's lots of room to grow), selling more ads, and getting Yahoo employees to re-find the swagger they long ago lost.
Here's something worth strutting about - over the most recent quarter, Yahoo! shares have outperformed the mighty Apple by 40 percent. And there's still a lot more upside.
Scott can be found on Twitter: @scottbudman