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The shares, which haven’t traded above $20 since September 2008, climbed 31 cents to close at $15.50, leaving Yahoo with a market value of $19 billion. That’s roughly the same as the individual fortunes of Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, whose company went public in 2004.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerbeg’s wealth could surpass Yahoo’s market value depending on the price set in an initial public offering of stock that is expected to be set Thursday.

Yahoo’s struggles center on the company’s inability to keep up with Google and Facebook in the race for online advertising. Its annual revenue has fallen from a peak of $7.2 billion in 2008 to $5 billion last year. Over the same period, Google’s annual revenue climbed from $22 billion in 2008 to $38 billion last year. Facebook’s rose from $272 million in 2008 to $3.7 billion last year.

Yahoo has been embattled for such a long time that there are a lot of people prepared to believe the worst about that company,” said Boston University’s Post, who specializes in corporate governance and professional ethics. “When you’re angry at the management and the board, when nothing’s going right and you’re losing money, it’s understandable that shareholders would adopt an `off with their head’ attitude.”

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AP Business Writer Christina Rexrode in New York contributed to this story.