Chinese Internet stocks jump in response to Qihoo's Q1 beat and very strong Q2 guidance, highlighted by ramping search ad sales and soaring online game revenue. YY +6.5%. RENN +6.8%. NTES +5.5%. BIDU +2.4%. PWRD +3.2%. SOHU +3%. SINA +2.3%.
A recent Chinese government proposal to allow local investors to buy stocks traded elsewhere could give a lift to "companies familiar to them," argues Stifel. The firm mentions Baidu (BIDU +3.3%), Qihoo (QIHU +2.1%), Youku (YOKU +1.2%), and Tencent (TCEHY.PK - trades in HK) as beneficiaries. All 3 U.S.-traded names are rallying, as are YY (YY +8.9%), Sohu (SOHU +5.1%), Perfect World (PWRD +1.6%), and Changyou (CYOU +3.1%). Youku fell yesterday after Baidu confirmed it's buying video site PPS, and will integrate it with its iQiyi site. Baidu claims PPS/iQiyi will create China's largest Web video platform in terms of mobile users and viewing time.
Chinese Internet stocks are surging after equities rallied in Shanghai and Hong Kong in spite of a major drop in China's services PMI. In addition to Qihoo (previous), winners include Renren (RENN +12.2%), YY (YY +13.3%), Baidu (BIDU +3.8%), Sina (SINA +2.8%), Sohu (SOHU +3.4%), Changyou (CYOU +4.3%), and Perfect World (PWRD +5%). YY is now up 20% since posting a strong Q1 report on Thursday afternoon; revenue rose 130.5% Y/Y to RMB315M ($50.7M), and EPS of $0.23 beat consensus by $0.06. Revenue is expected to hit RMB330M-340M in Q2.
Even as console game sales tumbled and PC demand slipped, PC game sales grew 8% last year to $20B, estimates research firm DFC - this figure includes money spent on online titles. Demand from China is believed to have risen 9% to $6.8B, and positive growth was also reportedly seen in the U.S. and Japan. Interestingly, industry trade group PCGA argues mobile is helping PC gaming enabling smaller developers to launch cross-platform initiatives.
Solid earnings from Tencent (TCEHY.PK) and a rally in Shanghai help Chinese Internet stocks trade higher. YOKU +3.8%. SINA +2.8%. QIHU +2.5%. SOHU +1.8%. YY +1.8%. NTES +1.5%. PWRD +1.7%. Tencent, which rose 1.5% in Hong Kong, reported a 53% Y/Y increase in Q4 sales to $1.96B, and a 37% increase in net income to $557M. Ad sales were better than expected, and value-added service sales (includes online games) rose 32%. Registered accounts for Tencent's WeChat mobile IM platform, which competes with Sina's Weibo, have topped 300M.
A selloff in Shanghai and poor guidance from Perfect World (PWRD -7.9%) lead some Chinese Internet stocks to underperform. YY -7.1%. BIDU -2%. SINA -2.5%. GAME -2.6%. Citi has downgraded Perfect World to Neutral on sales and margin concerns. On the earnings call, management mentioned sales of PWRD's popular Torchlight 2 game are expected to see a Q1 drop. One title the company has high hopes for (Neverwinter) will launch in Q2, while two others (Saint Seiya and Swordsman Online) are expected around mid-year.
More on Perfect World: Michael Chi is resigning as co-CEO, but will remain chairman. Robert Xiao will hold the CEO position by himself. Q1 guidance is for revenue of $95.2M-$99.5M, below a consensus of $123.8M. Revenue fell 12% Y/Y, and average concurrent users for Chinese games totaled 620K, +3% Q/Q but -29% Y/Y. Gross margin was 76.9%, -460 bps Q/Q and -530 bps Y/Y. Nonetheless, opex rose 22% Y/Y - a goodwill charge was partly responsible, but so was a 24% increase in R&D, as PWRD invests heavily in new titles. PWRD -10.3% AH. CC at 9PM ET (webcast). (PR)
Some marquee Chinese Internet stocks are slumping, potentially on worries about the SEC's suits against the Chinese arms of the Big-4 U.S. accounting firms. Baidu (BIDU -5.1%), Sina (SINA -6.6%), Youku Tudou (YOKU -4.2%), Sohu (SOHU -3%), Perfect World (PWRD -1.2%), and NetEase (NTES -4%) are among the losers. Renren (RENN +2.5%) is higher following yesterday afternoon's Deutsche upgrade.