I have no idea what Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer had as her top goals when she charged into the corner office, but I suspect one of them was “reclaim the top spot among American web properties.”
And if so, mission accomplished.
According to a ComScore report tracking unique visits to U.S. websites in July, Yahoo’s sites beat out those of incumbent Google (GOOG) — and everyone else — to earn the top spot for the first time since 2008.
Granted, the 196.6 million unique visits don’t include mobile users, and “unique” means one visit, not the multiple clicks you make while dialing up Google for research and search.
But keep in mind too that comScore says those numbers don’t include visits to Yahoo’s most recent acquisition, blog site Tumblr, which brought in 38.4 million.
Love Yahoo or hate it, it’s hard to say Mayer isn’t making a difference. I was crushed by some for buying the stock back in January, but while there have been some blips, YHOO is up 40% year-to-date, and the company is showing a pretty strong pulse.
Yahoo is focused on picking up brainpower and driving traffic to sites, and Mayer and her team continue to add to their stable: In 2013 alone, Yahoo has bought Summly, Xobni, Qwiki and of course Tumblr among its 19 total buys.
In fairness, though, there are a few caveats to Yahoo’s success.
For one, YHOO’s earnings and cash flow have been heavily driven by the company’s 24% stake in Chinese Internet company Alibaba — a reliance that might forcibly come to an end should it file for an IPO.
Plus, Yahoo still has lots of work to do to get its U.S. properties growing revenues and profits. Eyeballs and visits are a nice start, but turning them into advertising dollars is the big challenge … and that goes for everyone in the space.
And as I mentioned above, comScore’s traffic numbers don’t include mobile, and mobile’s the future. Yahoo’s survival will rely on its ability to matter on smartphones and tablets, not just work PCs and home laptops.
But this latest report still is a gold star for Yahoo’s front office, and feeds my belief that YHOO remains a good pick.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he was long YHOO.