【英语财经】新浪令投资者担忧多期待少 Sina Spreads Gloom Amid Chinese Internet Boom

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2014-5-23 08:49

小艾摘要: Chinese Internet portal operator Sina is giving investors plenty to worry about, and not much to look forward to. Both Sina and microblog service Weibo, in which it retains a majority stake after last ...
Sina Spreads Gloom Amid Chinese Internet Boom
Chinese Internet portal operator Sina is giving investors plenty to worry about, and not much to look forward to.

Both Sina and microblog service Weibo, in which it retains a majority stake after last month's New York listing, lost money during the first quarter. Sina's revenue was up 36% from a year earlier, helped by a 161% surge at Weibo, where the number of monthly active users grew 11% from three months earlier, to 144 million. But Sina warned of a coming rough patch, with top-line growth expected to slow to 16% to 19% in the second quarter.

The weak outlook has multiple causes. Most immediate is the threat from China's censorship-loving regulators, who have revoked Sina's licenses for video and Internet publishing due to alleged pornographic content. Sina says it is working with the government on a resolution, and it can still offer some reading and video services. But Sina chief executive Charles Chao said some advertisers are already pulling back from commitments. It's another reminder that making money on the Chinese Internet has its own set of rules.

More broadly, Mr. Chao said the macroeconomic backdrop in China currently is 'not positive' for advertising, with the slowdown hitting certain ad categories such as autos. The picture is no better for the bottom line, as the company now plans to increase spending to catch up to rivals in areas like mobile and video. Mr. Chao said while developing the Twitter-like Weibo, Sina underinvested in its core portal business over the past few years. It faces headwinds similar to those hitting U.S. portal sites such as Yahoo in moving desktop users to smartphones.

Even at fast-growing Weibo, more spending is in store. Competition with Tencent's WeChat messaging app is intensifying as both companies spend heavily to attract users and keep engagement rising. In another example of an Internet company leader's telling investors they have gotten ahead of themselves, Mr. Chao warned operating results at Weibo this year 'may turn out to be significantly lower than the street has expected.'

Give Sina credit for being forthcoming, and for being prudent by keeping expectations low. But with so many storm clouds on the horizon, investors would have good sense to stand clear for now.

中国互联网门户运营商新浪公司(Sina)令投资者担忧的地方有很多,令他们期待的却不多。

新浪和微博服务新浪微博(Weibo)今年第一季度双双亏损。新浪微博上个月在纽约上市后,新浪仍持有其多数股权。受新浪微博收入增长161%的推动,新浪收入较上年同比增长36%。新浪微博月度活跃用户人数较上一季度增长11%,至1.44亿。不过,新浪就即将面临的难关提出警告,预计第二季度营业收入增幅将降至16%-19%。

多重原因造成了新浪前景疲弱。最为迫在眉睫的是来自中国喜欢审查的监管机构的威胁。新浪因涉嫌传播色情内容被监管机构吊销了视频和互联网出版牌照。新浪称,目前正在与政府合力寻找解决方法,眼下仍可以提供一些阅读和视频服务。但新浪首席执行长曹国伟(Charles Chao)说,一些广告客户已经开始取消广告合同。这再次提醒人们,在中国互联网上赚钱有着它自己的一套规则。

从更宏观的角度看,曹国伟认为中国的经济形势对广告业务不利,经济放缓打击了汽车等一些行业的广告。利润形势则同样不容乐观,新浪计划增加支出,试图在移动和视频业务方面赶上竞争对手。曹国伟说,过去几年新浪大力发展微博业务,但对核心的门户业务投资不足。在把台式电脑用户推向智能手机的过程中,新浪面临着与雅虎(Yahoo)等美国门户网站类似的困境。

即便是增长迅速的新浪微博,增加开支也势在必行。新浪微博与腾讯(Tencent)微信(WeChat)之间的竞争愈演愈烈,两家公司都投入重金吸引用户,保持用户的参与度不断上升。曹国伟警告说,新浪微博今年的营业利润可能比外界预计的低很多,这是互联网公司高管警告投资者不要抱过高期望的又一个例子。

新浪的直言不讳和保持低调的谨慎作风值得赞赏。但在黑云压顶、山雨欲来之际,投资者最好还是选择躲避。

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