Yahoo shares went into a free fall Wednesday, plummeting 20.9 percent following comments from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that the software giant is interested in a search-only partnership and not a buyout of the entire company.
The Internet search pioneer fell $2.41 a share to close at $9.14 a share, during the regular trading session. And at one point in the trading day, Yahoo's shares dipped as low as $9.07 a share.
The stock went into shock after Ballmer reiterated that Microsoft has no plans to acquire Yahoo and that its interests mainly lie in a potential to do a search-only partnership with the company.
Ballmer's comments were made during a question and answer session at Microsoft's annual shareholders meeting.
That disappointed Yahoo investors, who were holding out hope that Microsoft would come back to the negotiating table after the Internet search pioneer announced Monday that CEO Jerry Yang would step down as soon as a replacement was found. Many investors had blamed Yang for the failed Microsoft buyout talks, when the software giant walked away from its previous offer of $33 a share to acquire the company.
Yahoo's stock has undergone two rounds of whiplash this week, soaring as much as 16 percent in intraday trading on Tuesday after the Yang announcement.
Earlier in the week, after Yahoo had announced Yang would be stepping down, one influential Microsoft source had told CNET News that Yahoo investors who were still "lusting" after a Microsoft buyout would be disappointed.
The source had noted that the topic of a Yahoo buyout has not come up in Redmond for months and months now and that the two companies are not talking.
And another source quoted in the story, who is familiar with Yahoo's thinking, noted it was unlikely the Internet search pioneer would consider any search-only related deals until Yahoo had a new CEO in place, allowing that person to weigh in on the topic. Yahoo is expected to make a decision on its next CEO within the next six months.