Weibo Loss Narrows as New Users Boost Advertising Revenue

Aug 15, 2014 12:56 pm ET

(Updates Weibo’s share price in seventh paragraph.)

Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Weibo Corp. reported a narrower second-quarter loss as alliances with smartphone manufacturers boosted users, helping the Chinese microblogging service controlled by Sina Corp. win more advertising sales.

The net loss was $15.4 million compared with a loss of $35.1 million a year earlier, the Beijing-based company said in a statement dated Aug. 14. Sales more than doubled to $77.3 million, higher than Weibo’s forecast in May of sales of $74 million to $76 million.

Weibo, also backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., said the number of daily active users increased 32 percent in the period from a year earlier. Chief Executive Officer Wang Gaofei is investing in marketing, product development and using partnerships to win users amid competition from Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat messaging application.

“We have already formed strategic alliances with major handset manufacturers,” Wang said during a conference call. “We are delighted to see over 50 percent of our new mobile users come from collaboration with handset manufacturers and mobile operators.”

Weibo forecast sales of $79 million to $82 million in the third quarter, up from $53.4 million in the year earlier period. The projection compares with the $78.9 million average of four analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Total net revenue contributed by Alibaba was $22.2 million, Chief Financial Officer Bonnie Yi Zhang said during a conference call.

Active Users

Shares of Weibo fell 7.1 percent $19.93 at 12:53 p.m. in New York. The stock has gained 17 percent from the $17 a share price in April’s initial public offering.

Weibo, which sold $286 million of shares in the IPO, operates a social media website similar to Twitter Inc.’s that allows users to post short messages. Twitter’s service is blocked in China by government censors.

The average number of daily active users of Weibo rose to 69.7 million for June, the company said.

Sina remains the controlling shareholder of Weibo after the IPO, holding 54 percent of outstanding shares on a fully diluted basis, while Alibaba owns 30 percent, the company said in May.

--With assistance from Brendan Scott in Hong Kong.