Credit: Yahoo!

Shares of Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) edged lower Wednesday as investors sold on worse-than-expected third-quarter results that were released Tuesday. Here's a closer look at the Q3 totals versus Wall Street's projections:

YHOORevenueYOY GrowthEPSYOY Growth
Consensus estimate  $1,024.48 million  (6.4%)  $0.16  (69.2%)
Q3 actual  $1,002.44 million  (8.4%)  $0.15  (71.2%)
DIFFERENCE  ($22.04 million)  (2%)  ($0.01)  (2%)

Sources: S&P Capital IQ and Yahoo press release. 

Commenting on the results, CEO Marissa Mayer said in a press release:

As we move into 2016, we will work to narrow our strategy, focusing on fewer products with higher quality to achieve improved growth and profitability. In addition to sharpening focus within core business growth, our top priority is the planned spinoff of Aabaco Holdings. This is an important moment for the Company, and we continue to strive to complete the spin as quickly as we can.

What went right: Once again, "Mavens" revenue from mobile ads, video ads, native ads, and Tumblr ads and fees rose impressively -- up 43% year over year. On its own, mobile revenue rose 31% to $271 million and accounted for 24% of traffic-driven revenue in the third quarter, up from 20% last year at this time. These are the primary drivers of the business that will remain once Yahoo! finishes its spinoff of Aabaco Holdings.

What went wrong: Traffic acquisition costs, or TAC, for search and display ads soared. Search was the bigger culprit, though, accounting for $119 million in TAC in Q3 versus just $3 million in last year's third quarter. Back then, a deal to make Yahoo! the default search engine for Firefox was just taking shape. Revenue from search rose 13% year over year on the basis of generally accepted accounting principles, while display revenue rose 14% on the same basis and over the same period. Unfortunately, TAC for display ads more than doubled during that time -- from $51 million in last year's Q3 to $104 million in the just-completed quarter.

What's next: Yahoo! didn't provide updated guidance in its press release, opting to wait for a call with analysts to update the Street on its short- and long-term prospects. In the meantime, analysts tracked by S&P Capital IQ have the company generating $1,076.52 million in revenue and $0.19 a share in adjusted earnings in the fourth quarter. That compares with $1,179.46 million and $0.30 a share in last year's Q4. Longer term, analysts have Yahoo!'s earnings shrinking by an average of 2.14% annually during the next three to five years.  

Investors watching this stock should focus the Mavens. Accelerating growth would bode well, though given Mayer's comment about "sharpening focus" means it's more likely we'll see hiccups as some apps and test magazines are put aside to cut costs and boost profit.

Tim Beyers would like to see how much purple is worn regularly at Yahoo HQ. He's also a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission and owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home and portfolio holdings or connect with him on Google+Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool.

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