Today Yahoo Shareholders are meeting in San Jose. Or maybe we should say non-meeting since there are apparentely mostly empty chairs and uneaten pastry in a venue that was to hold 1000.
With shares now trading about $19 you’d think shareholders would be out in force with torches and pitchforks, but Yahoo management – at enormous cost to shareholders and the company – has kept the corporate raiders and Microsoft at bay partly by granting a newly sheepish Carl Icahn a seat on the board and two more seats. Icahn noted last week that enough large shareholders were sticking with the current board, making it impossible for him to take over the company. His plan was fairly simple – buy a lot of Yahoo and then sell the company to Microsoft at a huge profit. As a shareholder I remain *totally* confused as to why large shareholders were unwilling to support this move – the obvious choice in terms of maximizing shareholder value with minimum risk.
However with challenges come opportunities. Yahoo at $19 is looking pretty ripe right now given that Microsoft offered $31 just months ago when Yahoo’s prospects were not significantly different than they are right now. Either MS is horribly miscalculating Yahoo’s value, or the Market is underestimating that value. Clearly the current board is convinced there is a lot more value, and in this at least I would agree with them.
It’ll be interesting to see how the rank and file Yahoo folks are feeling at SES San Jose in a few weeks. SES is the biggest search conference of the year in the heart of Silicon Valley, and hundreds of Yahoo folks will be there. It will be interesting to get a feel for the current morale challenges at the company.
Disclosure: Long on YHOO. Considering buying more.