Friday, June 24, 2011

Don't Expect Much From Yahoo!

By Eric Jackson
RealMoney Contributor

6/23/2011 10:45 AM EDT
Click here for more stories by Eric Jackson

Many observers are wondering if a big announcement will come out of today's annual meeting of Yahoo! (YHOO - commentary - Trade Now) shareholders.

Several reporters have asked me if there would be angry shareholders attending, or if there would be an announcement about CEO Carol Bartz, or some deal with Chinese Internet companyAlibaba Group, which Yahoo has a stake in.

Although I would love to hear some big changes announced, I don't expect much from the meeting. I've gone to several of these types of meetings in the past. The biggest shareholders usually stay home. The more senior shareholders who live in the vicinity of Santa Clara, Calif., and enjoy free finger food and coffee will come out. They're not exactly the pitchfork and fire brigade. The Q&A -- even back in 2008, after Yahoo had botched the offer from Microsoft (MSFT - commentary - Trade Now) -- was pretty tame.

The Internet pioneer will likely try to keep the meeting as exciting as a trip to the dentist. Expect it to be very formal. Expect short answers to questions. And expect the general counsel to try and make it as quick and painless as possible. It almost never happens that companies announce big news around these events.

I am sure that they are working on something about Bartz or Alipay behind the scenes, and they'll likely make announcements in the next few weeks.

So where's the drama?

Well, it all comes down to the votes cast for all the directors up for re-election (there are 10 of them). I have been advocating a "No" vote against 6 of them to help shake off the rust from this board that's probably the worst in America in the last 10 years (maybe they tie with Hewlett-Packard (HPQ - commentary - Trade Now)).

I was disappointed last week when the powerful (perhaps too powerful) proxy advisory firm ISS came out in support of all of Yahoo's directors. There are many pension funds and institutional investors who will simply vote the way ISS votes because they can use that as cover later if anyone comes back and gets angry at the way they voted. Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM (IBM - commentary - Trade Now), and nobody ever got in trouble voting ISS's recommendations.


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