If there's ever been an a earnings announcement when earnings themselves aren't important, it's Yahoo's fourth quarter.
When the company issues results after trading hours Tuesday, investors will be looking for details of a long-awaited plan to divest the company's stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group. That stake accounts for the majority of Yahoo's market capitalization (the company holds about 0.393 shares of Alibaba for every one of its own shares, indicating the stake theoretically is worth $41 of Yahoo's $49 share price).
Large Yahoo shareholders interviewed by CNBC say the stock may rise significantly if the company announces a tax-free spinoff of the stake because it will generate billions of dollars in savings that aren't fully reflected in the current share price. However, if Yahoo only spins off part of the stake or none at all, the share price could decline, they said.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer indicated months ago that the plan for Alibaba would arrive by Tuesday, and some investors have grown nervous as time has passed without news. Indeed, the price of Yahoo dipped earlier in January amid rumors that the company was considering shareholder-unfriendly actions. Yahoo declined to comment to CNBC.