Yahoo COO Fired, With Possible $100M Parachute

Morning Money Memo…

One hundred million dollars for failure. That may be the total payout to Henrique de Castro, the number two executive at Yahoo, who was brought in just 14 months ago to boost growth and digital advertising revenue. De Castro, the chief operating officer who was lured away from Google with a $62 million deal, has been fired by CEO Marissa Mayer. According to The Wall Street Journal, De Castro will depart Yahoo with "a severance package that could be worth more than an estimated $42 million."

The turnaround effort at Yahoo has been disappointing since Mayer took over in the summer of 2012. Some Wall Street analysts turned negative on the Internet firm, as sales dropped slightly last year. Mayer, who took the helm in July 2012, has attempted to revamp Yahoo with new exclusive content on its websites, redesigned email and other innovations. De Castro was criticized for failing to convince advertisers to spend more money with Yahoo.

Many retailers are licking their wounds after a mediocre holiday shopping season, including Best Buy, whose shares fell nearly 30 percent in pre-market trading after revenue and sales at its U.S. stores fell during the holiday season.

The stark question facing JC Penney is can it save itself? The retailer is closing 33 stores and eliminating 2,000. The move is aimed at saving $65 million a year. But retail analyst Burt Flickinger of Strategic Resource Group says the firm is in deep trouble. "Penney's already lost over $2 billion in the last two years and taken on nearly $2 billion in debt, so saving $65-million is a drop in a very leaky business bucket." Flickinger blames former CEO Ron Johnson, who was fired last year after his attempts to re-position Penney failed. "As a result JC Penney lost 40 percent of its sales in its stores over the last two years," says Flickinger. "What's worse is JCPenney lost one-third of its online customers."

Federal officials are going after Wal-Mart for violating the rights of striking workers last year. The National Labor Relations Board says Wal-Mart illegally fired, disciplined or threatened more than 60 employees in 14 states for participating in legally protected activities to complain about wages and working conditions. The labor board's general counsel first laid out the charges last November, but held off on filing a complaint while trying to work out a settlement with Wal-Mart. The company has insisted its actions were legal and justified.

The S&P 500 - the benchmark for many stock mutual funds in 401(k) plans - hit a new record high after two strong days of gains. The Dow Jones Industrial index closed up 108 points yesterday. More financial firms release their quarterly reports this morning - including Goldman Sachs Citigroup and Blackrock. Strong earnings from several big banks led the market higher yesterday.

America's largest cable company will build Philadelphia's tallest building. Comcast and developer Liberty Property Trust announced plans for a second and taller skyscraper in Philadelphia that will boast several three-story atriums and be topped by a blade that will push it some 200 feet higher than the media giant's current downtown headquarters. The 59-story building will be built next to the 58-story Comcast Center in downtown Philadelphia that is currently the city's tallest skyscraper.

The number of American homes that began the foreclosure process fell last year to a low not seen since before the high-flying days of the housing boom. Foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac says the number declined 33 percent from a year earlier to 747,728. Banks also took back the fewest number of homes last year since 2007.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesnow