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Yahoo’s Predicament in Three Charts

December 9, 2015, 1:20 AM UTC
Operations At The Yahoo! Inc. Data And Customer Center Ahead Of Earnings
A Yahoo! fantasy football jersey hangs next to a workspace in the Global Service Desk area of the the company's Lockport Data Center in Lockport, New York, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. Yahoo Inc., a $40 billion Web portal, is expected to release third quarter earnings on Oct. 21. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images

This could be the end for Yahoo (YHOO). After weeks of pressure to cancel the spin-off of its $32 billion stake in Alibaba, Yahoo is planning to give in, calling off the sale, and instead, exploring a sale of the company, according to reports.

If Yahoo’s activist investor, Starboard Value, gets its way (and so far it has, twice), Yahoo will sell its operating business, and Yahoo stock will consist of shares of Alibaba, Yahoo Japan, and $5 billion in cash. It’s a desperate measure.

CEO Marissa Mayer joined the company three years ago with great fanfare and hope, and despite shrinking revenue and a revolting staff, Yahoo remains the fifth-largest Web property in the world, with billions of dollars in revenue and hundreds of millions in profits.

But a sale would likely mean the end of Mayer’s tenure and possibly the end of Yahoo. How did it come to this point? Here are three charts that illustrate the company’s struggles.

Growth has stalled. Mayer has invested in expensive content, especially video, as well as social media acquisitions and mobile apps. The new income hasn’t offset shrinking revenue from Yahoo’s main business, desktop display ads.

yahoo shares

Yahoo’s stock price has increased under Mayer, but most investors attribute that to Alibaba. Once the company went public in 2014, investors no longer need to buy Yahoo shares to get exposure to its growth.

Investors are trading Yahoo’s shares below the value of its holdings in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba, therefore assigning no value to Yahoo’s operating business.

Yahoo’s board could decide to continue executing Mayer’s strategy. But that’s not likely: So far the board has shown it does what activist investors tell it to do. This time, with the decision to explore a sale, has proven no different.

For more coverage of Yahoo, read:

Why Verizon would buy Yahoo over Dish

When all else fails, Yahoo decides to ‘focus

Marissa Mayer has an insane severance package

Marissa Mayer has lost the narrative

Yahoo’s last resort

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You can follow Erin Griffith on Twitter at @eringriffith, and read all of her articles here.