While the initial response to last week's YHOO earnings was afterhours euphoria all of which fizzled in the first hours of trading, sentiment on the firm which has yet to do more than merely promise may sour in the coming days even more following news late on Friday that the company's formerly staunchest advocate, Third Point's Dan Loeb sold some 15% of his stake, or 11 million of 73 million shares on Thursday and Friday at a price between $19.68 and $19.70. The remaining stake is now 62 million shares, which means Third Point is now longer the firm's largest institutional holder with a 6.17% stake, but drops to 4th place behind Capital Group and above Vanguard, who own 67 and 48.9 million shares respectively. The reason given for these opportunistic sales is that they were "motivated by Third Point`s desire to maintain a roughly consistent percentage holding of Yahoo`s outstanding shares as the company pursues its $5 billion buy-back authorization." Of course considering the $1.5 billion in shares that YHOO has actually bought back represent some 6.5% of the outstanding, one is a little confused how a 15% stake reduction is hedged relative to an actual buyback that is some 60% smaller. Does this mean another 15% stake cut in Q1 when YHOO, supposedly, buys back another $1.5 billion?
But even that question pales in comparison to that other one: why on earth would Dan Loeb want to sell shares in a company that none other than Jim Cramer had this to say about as recently as 2000:
How can Goldman Sachs compete with Yahoo! as a way to invest? Isn't Nokia, with its wireless machine that goes everywhere a better bank than one that needs branches? Isn't Yahoo!, with its access to all of the information and quotes in the financial world a better place to buy stocks than Goldman?
Of course they are.
Why whatever is Third Point thinking.