Micro-hoo Head Games: Next 24 Days are All-Important

The two most important dates in Yahoo’s immediate future are July 22 and August 1.

On the first date Yahoo will announce its second quarter earnings, which should help clarify its (and the Web’s) vulnerability to U.S. economic woes — as well as to continued oversupply caused by a glut of social network ad inventory. Any pain would likely emanate from the financial, automotive & travel sectors, which have steadily reduced spending over the past year.

Poor results will put the company on weak footing with investors, who will meet on the second date above to decide on — among other things — Carl Icahn’s proposal to oust its management and board of directors. Icahn intends to replace the company’s CEO and board with a leadership team, including himself, that would be more open to a sale of part or all of Yahoo to Microsoft. Indeed, should Icahn succeed, whatever crew takes over would be explicitly appointed to orchestrate a deal with Microsoft.

No shocker: Microsoft supports that outcome. Microsoft stated this morning that it has “concluded it cannot” reach an agreement with the current leadership (very careful language that does not preclude new talks with Yang at some later date), but would reconsider a complete acquisition of Yahoo if Yang & company are yanked. Yahoo quickly retorted: “If Microsoft and Mr. Ballmer really want to purchase Yahoo, we again invite them to make a proposal immediately.”

Meanwhile, Yahoo may be working furiously to consummate an agreement with Time Warner to purchase or otherwise combine its operations with those of AOL. The Times Online describes re-ignited talks between the Web company, Goldman Sachs and Time Warner’s leadership in an effort to “re-heat” negotiations ahead of that all-important shareholder meeting.

A merger announcement within 24 days could overshadow weak earnings, and convince shareholders to give Yahoo’s current leadership some more time to improve performance.

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