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Sohu.com Hits 11-Year Low After Another Rough Quarter


Three months ago, we saw Sohu.com 's (NASDAQ: SOHU)  stock trade at a 10-year low after a disappointing quarter. We're seeing more of the same this week, only now we're talking about the former dot-com darling hitting an 11-year low after Monday morning's poorly received second-quarter results.

The Chinese online advertising, search, and gaming specialist is clocking in with $486 million in revenue for the three months ending in June, a 7% sequential uptick over the seasonally sleepy first quarter but a mere 5% gain over the prior year's second-quarter performance. The single-digit top-line growth comes after topping 20% in revenue growth for three consecutive quarters. Investors were braced for a slowdown. It was uninspiring guidance for the second quarter that tripped the stock down to a decade-long low last time out, but even that cautious outlook proved to be overly optimistic.

Revenue clocked in at the low end of the initial revenue range of $485 million to $510 million that Sohu was targeting back in late April. There was weakness across various segments at Sohu. Spun-off subsidiaries Sogou (NYSE: SOGO) and Changyou.com (NASDAQ: CYOU) are also moving lower on Monday for the parts they played in Sohu's soft outing.

Sohu.com logo.

Image source: Sohu.

Breaking down the breakdown

Sohu's weakest top-line growth in more than a year is the combination of a 45% surge in revenue at its Sogou-fueled search business being held back by a 29% decline in brand advertising revenue and a 23% slide in its Changyou-led online gaming arm. Back in April, Sohu was eyeing a 40% to 45% spike at Sogou, a 22% to 31% decline at Changyou, and a 19% to 24% drop for its original brand advertising business. It landed within the ranges it provided for search and online gaming but underestimated the continuing drop-off in its brand advertising business.

Sohu spun off Sogou  last year -- just as it took Changyou public nine years ago -- to give its subsidiaries room to impress and finance their operations. It still has majority stakes in both businesses.

Changyou is joining Sohu in hitting fresh multiyear lows following Monday's results. Sogou is the only one that isn't hitting new lows, but the uninspiring quarterly report is sending the stock back into the single digits and well below last year's $13 IPO price.

The red ink continues to flow at Sohu, just as it has for most of the past four years. Sohu's loss of $1.23 a share and adjusted deficit of $1.27 a share were actually better than the per-share loss of as much as $1.70 that it was modeling three months ago.

Sohu's guidance for the third quarter is problematic. It sees $445 million to $470 million in total revenue for the current quarter, which at the midpoint is slightly less than the $461.2 million it served up a year earlier. Sohu sees a modest 7% to 11% increase in revenue at Sogou weighed down by a 13% to 20% decrease in brand advertising and a 32% to 40% plunge for its online gaming segment. It's also once again bracing investors for a loss of $1.40 to $1.65 per share.

Landing at the low end of its earlier revenue goal and offering up its weakest revenue growth guidance in more than a year aren't going down well with investors this week. Sohu will need to make sure that it doesn't hit a 12-year low when it reports again in late October.

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Rick Munarriz owns shares of Sogou Inc. The Motley Fool recommends Sohu.com. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.



This article appears in: Personal Finance , Stocks
Referenced Symbols: SOHU , CYOU , SOGO



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