Sina Corp. (SINA:US), owner of China’s largest Twitter-like service, unexpectedly posted a fourth-quarter profit as advertising sales increased.
Net income fell to $2.36 million from $9.28 million a year earlier, the New York-listed company said in a statement today. Analysts had expected a $900,000 loss, based on the average of seven estimates (SINA:US) compiled by Bloomberg. Sales rose 4.3 percent from a year earlier to $139.1 million.
Sina has boosted spending on development as the more than 400 million users of its Weibo micro-blog service increasingly post from mobile devices rather than personal computers. China’s slower growth has also damped advertising, hitting earnings at online companies including Baidu (BIDU:US) Inc. and Sohu.com Inc. Sina’s ad sales increased 7 percent to $110.7 million.
“Weibo needs a lot of development and money, especially for the advertising-promotion system,” Ma Yuan, a Hong Kong- based analyst at Bocom International Holdings, said before the announcement. She rates Sina neutral.
Sina predicted first-quarter non-GAAP sales of $115 million to $119 million, including advertising revenue of $94 million to $96 million, according to the statement.
Baidu, the operator of China’s largest search engine, posted the slowest profit growth in almost four years in the quarter ended December. Fourth-quarter net income at Sohu.com fell 9 percent, according to a Feb. 4 statement.
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