Yahoo Inc., the No. 1 Internet directory, started a stock purchase plan that lets individual investors buy shares directly in the company as a way of attracting more retail shareholders. Investors can register for the program, called Yahoo StockDirect, at http://yahoo.com/info/investor. New investors must buy at least $250 worth of Yahoo shares. After that, additional shares can be purchased in increments of $50 or more. Although retail investors hold 30% of Yahoo's shares, it's hoping that the new program will attract more long-term individual shareholders.
Separately, a judge in Paris ruled that Yahoo had broken French law and committed "an offense to the collective memory" of the country by conducting an online auction selling neo-Nazi objects in cyberspace. The judge ordered the company to pay $1,390 each to the Union of Jewish Students and an anti-racism group and gave it two months to find a way to make the site inaccessible to France-based Internet users. Shares of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Yahoo rose $5.94 to close at $126.25 on Nasdaq.