SUNNYVALE, California: Panama, the new and eagerly anticipated search-advertising portal from Yahoo, is to be unleashed one month ahead of its original launch date, according to an announcement Tuesday by the company's chairman/ceo Terry Semel.

Now slated to debut on February 5, much rests on the success of Panama via which Yahoo hopes to regain ground lost in recent years to the all-conquering Google.

Semel faces relentless pressure from the Wall Street pack to return Yahoo to the golden pathway of eternally rising profit after a period of lacklustre performance.

In November a leaked internal memo by Yahoo svp Brad Garlinghouse argued that the company had spread itself too thin across a wide range of online services. It called for the group to sell its non-core businesses and cut its workforce by up to 20%.

In December Semel, seemingly heeding that advice, revamped the company's senior management. Among the changes, he promoted cfo Sue Decker to oversee the Yahoo Marketplaces business unit which includes Autos, Classifieds, HotJobs, Personals, Real Estate, Shopping and Travel. She now reports direct to Semel.

The advanced launch of Panama reflects the new strategy of accelerated change. Says Semel: "We expect to see revenue impact of the new system beginning in the second quarter . . . and momentum throughout 2007 and beyond."

Meantime, Yahoo's latest set of numbers caused an outbreak of facial ricti (which may or many not have been momentary smiles) among Wall Street haruspices.

The company made a net profit of $269 million (€206.53m; £135.54m) in the fourth quarter of 2006 - substantially ahead of analyst' expectations and boosting full year profits to $751m on sales of $6.4bn.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff