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What options does Marissa Mayer have left?

Her stock is down. Key lieutenants have left. So, what are Marissa Mayer's options now at Yahoo?

The CEO finds herself under increasing pressure, with financial analysts questioning the progress and direction of her turnaround strategy at the company. Wall Street isn't expecting much bullish news when the company reports third-quarter earnings after the market close Tuesday.

Specifically, analysts predict earnings per share of 16 cents on revenue of $1.02 billion, which would amount to a decline of more than 6 percent on the top line, according to FactSet.

This week, however, the attention of Yahoo's shareholders is just as much on the company's C-suite as its business performance. That's because there has been a steady exodus of leadership parachuting out of the company.

Re/code reported that Yahoo recently lost development head Jackie Reses to Square as well as marketing partnerships head Lisa Licht. In September, CMO Kathy Savitt departed for a Hollywood entertainment company. And, in April, Mike Kerns, SVP of homepage and verticals, left to join The Chernin Group as digital head.

In all, 12 key executives have left this year, according to SunTrust's Robert Peck. That's up from four last year.

When Mayer took over three years ago, her game plan focused on attracting talented people who could build great products. That would in turn drive traffic and ultimately revenue. As Peck notes, executives leaving at this rate disrupts the heart of the strategy.

Investors have noticed, sending the stock down more than 30 percent this year.

To win back the bulls, Mayer must accelerate the turnaround. That would mean continuing the momentum in Mavens, or the company's mobile, video, native and social ads.

Those are areas growing strongly: Last quarter, Yahoo generated $399 million in Mavens, amounting to a very robust leap of 60 percent.

The counter here is that Mavens still represents only a relatively small portion of the overall business — about 30 percent based on last quarter's results. So Mayer will also need to find ways to stabilize and expand Yahoo's core online ad business.

That won't be easy because competition is fierce.


Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer
Jason Alden | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer

According to an eMarketer prediction, Yahoo will capture just 2 percent of the $170 billion worldwide digital ad market this year. Google commands 30 percent of the market and Facebook controls 10 percent.

But even more critical in the near-term than the health of the core ad business is the uncertainty surrounding Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant.

Yahoo plans to go ahead with its planned spinoff of its stake in Alibaba even though the IRS won't say ahead of time whether the transaction will be tax free. The different possible outcomes — no tax versus a 40 percent capital gains tax — amounts to billions of dollars for Yahoo shareholders.

If Mayer can't accelerate the turnaround of the business, then Neil Doshi of Mizuho Securities offers another option: Sell the company.

He says a private equity firm could potentially appreciate the value of Yahoo's 1 billion users. The company still controls some of the most popular properties on the Web like Yahoo News and Yahoo Finance.

A private equity firm could move in and strip out costs, Doshi said. (Up to 40 percent of the workforce could be cut, he said.) Then a number of business lines, including Mavens, could be spun out.

Right now, analysts are overwhelmingly positive on the stock: Nearly 70 percent of analysts are telling clients to buy it, according to FactSet. One such fan is Youssef Squali of Cantor Fitzgerald.

However, Squali said he isn't bullish because he believes Yahoo offers the promise of a compelling ad business. Rather, he simply thinks that, at this price, the stock already reflects a lot of bad news.

"At this price, the stock implies that there is no value in the core business, and that Alibaba will be taxed at 40 percent," he said.