Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO), Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) & Zillow Inc (Z): Companies Spice Up Earnings Calls With Creativity

Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO)Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) did it. Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) followed. Then Zillow Inc (NASDAQ:Z) tried a completely different approach. We’ve officially reached the era of the high-tech earnings calls, with companies turning to poorly-produced videos and social media to entertain and amuse the stockholders with their quarterly earnings news.

As these three companies start what will likely be a new trend, the public can’t help but feel a little disappointed at what promised to be an exciting way to present less-than-exciting material. But, does presentation matter as much as what the report says?

Yahoo! applauded

The response to Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO)’s video call was generally positive, with the company’s stock rising shortly following the call. This was despite the fact that CEO Marissa Mayer and finance chief Ken Goldman delivered disappointing results while seated behind a desk in a TV news format. Mayer and Goldman revealed that the company’s revenue was down 7%. Earnings exceeded analyst expectations, however, coming in at $0.35 per share.

But what really wowed viewers was the visual aids Mayer used during the call, especially one that showed Yahoo!’s traffic is growing after experiencing a steady decline. But despite Mayer’s great ideas and forward-thinking strategies, the company continues to come up short in finding ways to make money. As interesting as the visual aids were, they might be better served in showing how they’re going to turn around ad revenue, which was down 11% ex-TAC in this quarter. Additionally, they set a high standard for Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), with many analysts wondering what the company will do if those numbers fall in the next quarter.

Yahoo!’s recent announcement that it would be overhauling its Right Media platform rather than selling it didn’t bolster anyone’s confidence. In fact, some analysts were downright critical of the move, with AdWeek labeling the display advertising exchange “deeply flawed.” Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO)’s future performance will likely rely heavily on how it works its mobile strategy, since mobile ad revenue is expected to continue to be a huge part of every tech company’s bottom line. With fund managers still putting money into the stock, it’s evident some still have faith in the company, although the company faces stiff competition.

Streaming good news

But, Yahoo!’s presentation of its earning call not only won brownie points, it inspired other companies to find more interesting ways to spice up what is normally a humdrum experience. Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) celebrated the success of its production ventures by setting up its own live streaming experience, available to the public through YouTube. The low production quality and homemade video feel were intended to give the call a “fireside chat format,” increasing viewers’ comfort level as they tuned in.

But, entertainment value did little to ease the mind of investors, who watched as CEO Reed Hastings reported the company’s subscriber base grew by less than six million. Although this missed expectations, it seemed to be good enough for Hastings, who seemed happy to talk about overseas subscriber growth of more than four million. The company also experienced a 20% increase in sales, totaling nearly $890 million and net income increased to nearly $30 million, five times its net income in the same quarter in 2012.