Sina's Q4 revenue jumps 43% as Weibo soars

(REUTERS) - Sina Corp's revenue soared 43 per cent in the fourth quarter, as its Weibo messaging service more than doubled advertising sales despite strong competition from Tencent Holdings Ltd's WeChat.

Weibo, one of several Chinese Twitter-like services, increased ad revenue by 163 per cent to US$56 million (S$71 million) in the final three months of 2013. Sina Weibo has hired investment banks for a US$500 million United States initial public offering later this year, a source told Reuters on Monday.

Still, shares of the Chinese company slid 3.4 per cent after Sina's overall results barely beat Wall Street's expectations.

Investors are accustomed to seeing the Chinese Internet company outpace its targets by wide margins.

Sina posted non-generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) revenue of US$192.3 million in the fourth quarter, barely surpassing an average forecast for US$192.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

It recorded a two-fold increase in non-GAAP net income to US$33 million or 47 US cents per share, beating by just a penny the 46 US cents that analysts expected.

Chinese mobile messaging apps like Tencent's WeChat, or Weixin, have become venues of choice for users who want to express views without fear of government retribution.

Weibo plans a listing in the second quarter, said the source, who was not authorised to speak publicly on the matter.

"As we enter 2014, we will continue to focus on growing Weibo's user base and user engagement through product innovation, as well as seizing opportunities to enable us for long-term growth," Sina chief executive officer Charles Chao said in Monday's results statement.

Its stock fell after hours to US$73.50, from a close of US$76.08 on the Nasdaq.

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