Sina Corporation (SINA)

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Sina Corporation (SINA)

Q3 2012 Earnings Call

November 15, 2012 8:00 p.m. EST


Cathy Peng – IR Manager

Charles Chao – Chairman, President and CEO

Herman Yu – CFO


Richard Ji – Morgan Stanley

Eddie Leung Bank – America Merrill Lynch

Ming Zhao – 86Research

Jiong Shao – Macquarie Research

Alicia Yap – Barclays Capital

Ravi Sarathy – Citi

Gina Chen – T.H. Capital

Jialong Shi – CLSA



Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to SINA Corporation's third quarter 2012 earnings conference call.

At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. However, we will be facilitating a question-and-answer session towards the end of the conference.

I'd now like to turn the presentation over to your host for today's conference, Ms. Cathy Peng, Investor Relations Manager. Please go ahead, ma'am.

Cathy Peng

Thank you. Good morning. Welcome to SINA's earnings release for the third quarter 2012. Joining me today are our President and CEO, Charles Chao, and our Chief Financial Officer, Herman Yu. This conference call is also being broadcast on the internet and is available through the Investor Relations section of the SINA website.

Before the management presentation, I would like to read you the Safe Harbor statement in connection with today's conference call. During the course of this conference call we may make forward-looking statements, statements that are not historical facts, including statements about our beliefs and expectations. Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. A number of important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement. SINA assumes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements in this conference call and elsewhere. Further information regarding these and other risks is included in SINA's Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2011 and its other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Additionally, I'd like to remind you that our discussion today includes non-GAAP measures, which exclude stock-based compensation and certain other items. We use non-GAAP financial measures to gain a better understanding of the SINA comparative operating performance and future prospects. Our non-GAAP measures exclude certain expenses, gains and losses and other items that are not expected to result in future cash payments or that are non-recurring in nature or may not be indicative of our core operating results and business outlook. Please refer to our press release for more information about our non-GAAP measures.

During the call we may discuss costs related to, which is our best estimate of the direct costs incurred by Weibo. These numbers have not been audited and exclude certain items, including those used to derive non-GAAP measures, overhead allocation and inter-company transaction.

Following management's prepared remarks, we will open the lines for a brief Q&A session. With this, I would like to turn the call over to our President and CEO, Charles Chao.

Charles Chao

Thank you, Cathy, and good morning everyone. Welcome to SINA earnings call for the third quarter of 2012.

SINA returned to profitability at the operation level in the third quarter as a result of the healthy growth in advertising business driven by expanded increases on London Olympic Games as well as increased acceptance for our newly-launched Weibo advertising platform. Total advertising revenues grew by 19% year over year, within the range of our guidance. Industries responsible for the increases were mainly in automobile, FMCG, IT and telecommunication.

The advertising revenues from Weibo doubled from the second quarter and accounted approximately 16% of our total advertising revenues in the third quarter. The growth in Weibo advertising revenue was mainly due to the increase in number of customers and, to a less extent, increased spending for Olympic Games. Although we expect advertising revenues from Weibo will contribute to a larger percentage of our total advertising revenues in the future, the sequential quarter-over-quarter growth rate in the coming fourth quarter will come down significantly due to the fact that approximately a quarter of Weibo advertising revenues in the third quarter coming from the special campaigns relating to Olympic Games.

In addition, we have also seen weaker general market conditions starting from the months of September as advertisers in various industries cutting back their marketing activities. As a result, we are going to see a weaker quarter for advertising business overall in the fourth quarter.

During the third quarter, the user base and user activities for Weibo continued to growth strongly. The total number of registered accounts for Weibo reached 424 million at the end of September, up 15.2% from 368 million at the end of June. The average number of daily active users or DAU grew by 16% from the month of June to the month of September and reached 42.3 million. The average number of daily active users as a percentage of total registered accounts remain at 10%. Among the daily active users, 72% access Weibo either through mobile or through both mobile and PC in the months of September as compared to 69% in the month of June.

The time spent per active user per day decreased slightly from the month of June to the month of September, but remained at approximately one hour per user. We believe that the decrease in time spent per user has to do with the competition from Weixin, a popular mobile-based social network offered by Tencent, and some overlapping users have begun to spend time on both platforms. We're monitoring this trend closely. In the meanwhile, our newly-launched version 5 of Weibo has added a function for private sharing among friends and groups. We hope this new function will help to create more social interactions among users and increase the user stickiness on our Weibo platform.

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