Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) is many things, none of them flat. Even though third-quarter earnings of $0.17 a share mirrored the $0.17-per-share showing during last year's period, don't you dare toss the word "flat earnings growth" around here. Those are fighting words when you're talking about the online portal giant.

That's because at this time last year, Yahoo! was selling a lot of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) stock. Sure, one can argue that Yahoo! could have held on to those hot shares a little longer, but when you're sleeping with the enemy you don't think twice about burning the bedsheets. If it had not been for the Google divestiture and a tax break, Yahoo! would have earned just $0.08 a share last year. This quarter was also spiked with a penny-per-share investment sale gain, but when you back all of that out, going from $0.08 a share to $0.16 a share is a welcome "non-flat" double. Free cash flow surged 71% higher, too.

The top line also complied, with revenues clocking in 47% higher at $1.3 billion. In sum, Yahoo!'s healthy report bodes well for Google's earnings tomorrow afternoon. It should also encourage companies like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IACI) because they look to become larger players in the paid search space that has been dominated by Google and Yahoo! over the past few years.

Yahoo! made its biggest moves overseas. The company saw its international revenue soar 62% higher, producing a huge 117% uptick in international operating profits. With $4.8 billion in cash and consolidation in the dot-com sector running at a frenetic pace, it will be interesting to see where Yahoo! goes from here.

It has now become the third party rumored to be seeking out a stake in Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) Once InterActiveCorp formally reaches Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons on speed dial, the bidding war can begin, with all four contextual advertisers in on the fun.

For now, it seems as if Yahoo! is doing just fine on its own. That's because Yahoo! is many things, none of them flat.

Time Warner is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a frequent Yahoo! visitor. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.