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Friday, August 11, 2006

Yahoo!: Don't Look Back, Something Might Be Gaining On You

Stocks: (TWX)(GOOG)(YHOO)

Black baseball legend Satchel Paige made the point that you shouldn't look back because someone might be gaining on you.

The Nielsen/NetRatings for July are out and they compare the unique visitors at major websites to the same month a year ago.

Yahoo! had 98.5 million unique visitors in July of last year. That rose 8% to 104.2 million. Google had 76.2 million uniques last year, which rose 23% to 94 million for this July. At that rate, it would not take long for Google to overtake Yahoo!, which is probably not a good thing.

Whether is is fair or not, this will give gasoline for those down on Yahoo! to throw on the fire. They can add that to Google's faster revenue growth rate and the delay in Yahoo!'s new search technology. It certainly does Yahoo! no good.

AOL also had a bit of a problem. Unique users grew only 1% from 74.1 million to 74.5 million. Maybe the new "free" AOL service will boost that number over the next couple of quarters. It would certainly make it easier for AOL to hit its advertising forecasts.

The bright spot for AOL is the its Mapquest site grew 11% from 39.3 million unique users last July to 43.6 million this year. It would make sense for AOL to get as much leverage as it can from its "sub-brands" like MapQuest and Netscape in its qwest to replace subscriber revenue with internet advertising dollars.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.

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