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Thursday, April 8, 1999

"There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman?" -- Woody Allen

Latest Market Numbers

Yahoo! Tops Estimates

Internet powerhouse Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) reported, after yesterday's close, first-quarter earnings of $25.1 million, or $0.11 a share, before charges and the effect of amortization. That was up from $3.3 million, or $0.02, in the same quarter a year ago but about flat with the preceding fourth quarter ended December 31. The results topped First Call's analysts' mean projection of EPS of $0.08.

Including one-time charges, the company reported earnings of $16.4 million, or $0.07 per share, versus $3.3 million, or $0.02 per share, last year and $18.5 million, or $0.08 per share, in Q4. Revenues increased 180% year-over-year to about $86.1 million from $30.6 million and gained 13% from the previous quarter's revenues of $76.4 million. Analysts had expected revenues of $77 million to $81.5 million.

Perhaps more important as far as Internet companies go is the fact that Santa Clara, California-based Yahoo! delivered strong Web traffic growth, with its audience up 5.4% in February -- the fastest growth among the 10 most popular websites and twice the rate of growth for the Web overall. In March, traffic increased to an average of 235 million page views per day, a 41% gain compared with 167 million in December. (A page view is defined as one Web page displayed in response to a user request.) The number of unique registered users at Yahoo! also rose to 47 million, up from 35 million in December.

Meanwhile, GeoCities (Nasdaq: GCTY), which in late January agreed to be bought by Yahoo!, reported a loss of $6.9 million, or $0.21 a share, before charges, compared with a loss of $2.9 million, or $0.12 a share, in the same year-earlier quarter. Analysts had forecasted a loss of $0.24 a share. Revenues gained 261% to $7.8 million from $2.2 million a year ago. Traffic increased 15% to an average of 61 million page views per day, up from 53 million in December.

News to Go

NBC parent, diversified manufacturer, and financial services company General Electric (NYSE: GE) posted first-quarter earnings of $0.65 a share, right in line with estimates and up from $0.57 last year.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced plans to release a new version of its Windows operating system for consumers "sometime in 2000" (Windows 98 Second Edition will be available this fall). The new version of Windows for consumers is a departure from the company's earlier plans to phase out the software in favor of a unified product line based on the code used in Windows NT and Windows 2000. Separately, in another potentially big step, Microsoft said that it's "seriously considering" publishing the source programming code for the core of its NT software, which would make the code available to outside programmers.

It's deja vu all over again -- again. Chip maker Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) issued yet another earnings warning for the first quarter, the third such announcement in just over two months. AMD said shipments of its AMD-K6-2 processors came in "substantially below plan." On Feb. 4, AMD warned that it might post an operating loss due to aggressive price cuts by rival Intel (Nasdaq: INTC). Then on March 8, the company said it expected to report a "significant loss" for the quarter.

Health insurance company Humana (NYSE: HUM) warned that first-quarter earnings will come in short of expectations due to higher medical costs. The company expects EPS of $0.20 to $0.24, compared with analysts' mean estimate of $0.34. Humana also plans to take a $90 million charge for additional medical claims.

On the heels of the earnings warning by rival Network Associates (Nasdaq: NETA), security software maker Check Point Software (Nasdaq: CHKP) said results for the first quarter will meet its expectations due to strong demand for its products and services. The company plans to announce official results before the market opens on April 19.

March Retail Same-Store Sales:

American Eagle Outfitters (Nasdaq: AEOSD) -- up 33.1%
J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) -- down 0.7%
Kmart (NYSE: KM) -- up 8.1%
The Limited (NYSE: LTD) -- up 18%
Talbots (NYSE: TLB) -- up 9.6%
Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) -- up 11.3%

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Yi-Hsin Chang (TMF Puck), Writer
Jennifer Silber (TMF Amused), Editor