SAN FRANCISCO - With buyout vultures circling the Internet company, Yahoo Inc. CEO Carol Bartz may have to accelerate her timetable for engineering a turnaround if she wants to save her job.

Bartz has said it could take a couple more years to revive Yahoo after a long period of listlessness, but it appears the company could become a takeover target if its financial performance doesn't improve within the next few months.

That urgency was underscored late Wednesday as the Wall Street Journal reported that another falling Internet icon, AOL Inc., is in preliminary discussions with a group of leveraged buyout firms, including Silver Lake Partners and Blackstone Group LP, about making a joint bid for Yahoo because its stock has been slumping for so long. The Journal story cited unnamed people familiar with the talks and said two or three other firms could also be interested in the deal, which could bring AOL's charismatic CEO, Tim Armstrong, to Yahoo.

It's likely an opportunistic suitor would emerge if Yahoo's revenue keeps growing at a turtle's pace while rivals such as Google Inc. and Facebook sprint further ahead as advertisers shift more of their spending to the Internet.

Although Yahoo's market value has fallen dramatically in the past few years, buying the company would still be expensive and quite complicated. That's the main reason most analysts believe it would take a while to put together a deal, even if Yahoo disappoints investors yet again next Tuesday when it reports its third-quarter earnings.

With no bid on the immediate horizon, Yahoo shares cooled from the heated reaction to the Journal's initial report. The stock rose 68 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $15.93 on Thursday. It had soared by nearly 13 percent in extended trading Wednesday following the Journal's report. The company's revenue through the first half of the year edged up by less than 2 percent.

ASSOCIATED PRESS