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SINA Corp. (SINA) Falls on Q1 Loss, Sales Miss Expectations

SINA Corp. SINA reported first-quarter 2016 adjusted loss of 27 cents per share, which compared unfavorably with the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 12 cents. In the year-ago quarter, the company had reported a loss of 19 cents a share.

Following the weak results, shares declined nearly 3.9% in the after-hours trading session yesterday.

Quarter Details

Revenues of $198.7 million also fell short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $204 million though it marked an 8% increase over the prior year quarter.

Advertising revenues moved up 7.6% year over year to $163 million. The upside was primarily driven by strength in advertising related to Weibo WB, though it was offset partially by the weakness in the portal advertising revenues.

Non-advertising revenues rose 4.3% year over year to $35.7 million driven by strength in the both portal and Weibo businesses.

Weibo revenues surged 23.9% year over year to $119.3 million. Monthly active users went up 32% year over year to 261 million. Daily active users for Weibo came in at 121 million at quarter-end. The strong growth momentum of Weibo advertising was driven by increasing adoption of mobile devices and improved monetization, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Portal revenues decreased 10.1% year over year to $79.4 million. Portal Advertising revenues decreased over 10% in the quarter to $63.7 million.

The company’s Weibo and Portal businesses have been impacted by the termination of the Alibaba contract (expired in Jan 2016). However, the company has been seeing strength in its non-Alibaba related revenues for Weibo, which improved 97% year over year and now represents 89% of total Weibo advertising revenues. Portal advertising revenues were affected to a greater extent because of the 72% decline in revenues from Alibaba.

Non-GAAP gross margin increased 120 basis points on a year-over-year basis to 59.5%. Operating expenses as a percentage of revenues declined to 63.6% from 71.8% in the prior-year quarter.

Lower operating expenses in the quarter allowed the company to reduce its operating loss to $8.5 million in the quarter, as against $25.2 million in the year-ago quarter.

Balance Sheet and Cash Flow

SINA exited the quarter with cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments of $2.19 billion compared with $2.21 billion as of Dec 31, 2015.

Cash provided by operating activities in the quarter was $18.2 million.

Our Take

Despite a strong product pipeline, a robust user base for e-Commerce and Weibo, the company’s business in this quarter was impacted by the non-renewal of the Alibaba contract. The equity loss from the company’s investment in E-House also weighed on its financials this quarter.

In addition, the company’s business is also likely to be impacted by soft macroeconomic conditions in China. Also, significant restrictions on online search and other social-networking activities in the region remain concerns.

Moreover, Weibo is expected to face stiff competition from the likes of WeChat in China, which may hurt its user base. We believe that Weibo’s monetization ability will be a major driving factor for SINA amid intensifying competition from the likes of Sohu.com Inc. SOHU and NetEase NTES in the video and brand advertising market.

Currently, SINA has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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