- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

SEATTLE (AP) - Chinese Internet portal operator Sina Corp. said Monday its fourth-quarter profit jumped 46 percent, helped by growth in both its Web advertising and cell phone-related businesses.

Earnings for the quarter rose to $25.6 million, or 42 cents per share, from $17.5 million, or 29 cents per share in the same period a year earlier. Excluding certain one-time charges, Sina said earnings totaled 49 cents per share.

That’s four cents better than analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected.

Revenue increased 44 percent to $101.5 million from $70.7 million, ahead of Wall Street’s forecast for $99.5 million in sales.

Advertising sales and revenue from the Shanghai-based company’s other businesses, which include sales of mobile ring tones and other add-ons, both grew in the quarter.

For the full 2008 year, Sina said its profit rose 35 percent to $88.8 million, or $1.69 cents per share. Sales rose 50 percent to $369.6 million.

Analysts were looking for $1.65 in profit on $367.7 million in sales.

But for the current first quarter, Sina forecast sales of $73 million to $77 million, well below Wall Street’s view for $99.4 million in sales. The company cited the recent slowdown of the Chinese economy and the global credit freeze.

“The spillover of the global financial crisis into post-Olympic China has had a negative impact on the Chinese brand advertising market. Such impact has been severe in the first quarter of 2009, as many of our advertising customers have experienced delays in their budgeting process or advertising campaigns,” said Charles Chao, Sina’s chief executive. “Although we have seen significant rebound in market demand since the end of February, it is too soon to assess the overall growth trend for brand advertising in China for the rest of 2009.”

Sina’s shares sank $1.57, or 8 percent, to $18.05 in after-hours trading after losing $1.40 to close at $19.62 in the regular session.

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