- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2011

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. (AP) - Yahoo Inc. Chairman Roy Bostock sought to defuse speculation that CEO Carol Bartz’s job is in danger with a ringing endorsement of her performance at the Internet company’s annual shareholders Thursday.

“This board is very supportive of Carol and this management team,” Bostock said in his opening remarks. “We are confident that Yahoo is headed in the right direction.”

The Associated Press monitored Yahoo’s meeting through a webcast because the company banned media from the gathering held at a Santa Clara hotel.

Bartz has boosted Yahoo’s earnings by cutting costs during her first 2 1/2 years as CEO, but so far hasn’t been able to revive the company’s revenue growth amid an upturn in Internet advertising that has enriched rivals Google Inc. and Facebook.

Yahoo’s financial funk also has infected the company’s stock, which has been such a laggard that Bartz still hasn’t hit any of the price targets that the company’s board set for her when she became CEO in 2009. The shares fell 41 cents to $14.82 in Thursday’s late morning trading.

Bartz, 62, received 5 million stock options that won’t start vesting until Yahoo’s stock closes at $17.60 or higher for at least 20 consecutive trading days.

The lackluster results under Bartz have caused some analysts to wonder whether Yahoo’s board will replace her before her four-year contract expires in January 2013.

Bostock made it clear that he believes Bartz deserves more time to execute her strategy because she inherited such a mess when she succeeded Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Bostock said.

Bostock also has faced criticism largely because he was chairman three years ago when Yahoo balked at an opportunity to sell itself to Microsoft Corp. for $47.5 billion, or $33 per share.

Most shareholders are still backing Bartz and Bostock. Based on a preliminary count announced Thursday, Yahoo said about 80 percent of shareholders backed their re-election to the board.

After the squandered Microsoft opportunity, only about 60 percent of shareholders backed Bostock’s election to the board in 2008.

Shareholders were going to be given an opportunity to question Bartz at the end of the meeting.

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