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Cramer’s New Favorite Internet Stock?

Believe it or not, Yahoo! is now a buy, Cramer told viewers on Thursday. A new CEO and a potential turn in advertising could finally deliver something that has long eluded this company: an earnings beat.

Advertising might finally find a bottom, which is essential for investors who want to own Yahoo! . Statements from a number of companies – News Corp , Disney , Time Warner and CBS to name a few – seemed to indicate a stabilization in ads, if not an improvement. And the Internet overall is expected to capture 15% of the ad market by 2011, a 50% increase from 2008.

Advertising’s exodus from tradition media to the Web is reason enough to consider a company like Yahoo!. Too bad prior management proved incapable of capitalizing on the trend. But that’s where new CEO Carol Bartz comes in. During her tenure at AutoDesk, a computer-aided design software firm, between 1992 and 2006, the stock price grew 997%. Compare that with the Nasdaq and S&P 500, which added just 295% and 209%, respectively, over the same period.

Bartz has wasted no time trying to generate the same results at Yahoo!. She has already cut 100 jobs and announced an additional 5% headcount reduction in April and May. The CEO also has reined in sales and marketing spending, and did so without hurting the business. Yahoo!’s search users in April grew 14% year-over-year, faster than Google , and page views jumped 26%, about the same as Google. Cramer thinks that this shows the company is in good position to rebound when advertising makes its turn up.

Yahoo! right now holds $3.4 billion in cash, or $2.45 of cash per share, with minimal debt. The value of its international holdings in Yahoo! Japan, Alibaba.com and GMarket total about $6.8 billion, or close to $5 a share. Subtract these from Yahoo!'s share price and you’re left with just $7.50, half of Thursday’s close. That’s cheap, especially considering Microsoft offered $31 a share back in February 2008.

The second-biggest player in a recovering Internet ad market that is destined to overtake its print peers for just $7.50? Buy Yahoo!, Cramer said.

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