With over 280 million registered users, Sina Corporation (新浪公司) (Nasdaq: SINA) is the largest online Chinese community in the world.   The company's main services are its web portal, Sina.com, and its microblog site, Weibo.com. The company's main revenue stream is advertising sales on its web portals (sites offering aggregated local news, entertainment, sports, etc. content). The company also sells mobile phone applications, ringtones, and other content to mobile phone users. Although the company's main audience is in mainland China, it also delivers local content to Chinese communities in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and North America.
With an already sizable community, Sina is well positioned to take advantage of the of the growing popularity of Web 2.0 and has begun to focus on user generated content. Sina Blog grew tenfold in the past year, and during the same time, the company launched Sina Podcasting, a service similar to You-Tube that lets users to upload videos. These efforts contributed to a 10% increase in revenues to $212.9 million with online advertising revenues increasing 44%.
Revenue grew +12.3% YoY to $403 million, with strong sales in Advertising (+27.6% YoY) offsetting weakness in MVAS (-27.8% YoY). Advertising growth was driven by demand related to the World Cup. The decline in MVAS revenue was mainly due to China Mobile implementing policy changes, including suspension of WAP billing, limiting the service offerings and partnerships allowed for each SMS code, and requirements for additional confirmations and notices before purchasing.
Gross profit grew +14.8% YoY to $248 million, driven by strong YoY sales and gross margin expansion in the Advertising segment (gross profit margin grew from 56% to 60% in 2010).
Operating profit grew 130.3% YoY, driven by improved gross margins and proportionally lower SG&A spending. Total operational expenses declined 15% YoY, driven by lower marketing expenses for the Advertising and MVAS segments and lower stock-based compensation charges.
Net income for the year was $-19.1 million, the company's first net loss since it achieved profitability in 2002. The company spun off its online real estate advertising business and recognized a loss of about $129 million, pushing net income into the red.
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While SINA is the leading web portal in China, it faces stiff competition from other companies such Chinese companies as Sohu.com (SOHU), Baidu.com (BIDU), Tom Online (TOMO), and Netease.com (NTES). International companies such as Yahoo! (YHOO) have also entered the market although SINA has signed an agreement with Google (GOOG) to use their search engine. The market is still very fragmented, and rapid growth of China's online ad industry represents a risk to traditional portals, such as SINA.com.