If you think Chinese stocks are heading higher, put your money where your mouth is.
ChinaFinance Online (Nasdaq: JRJC ) is a high-octane wager on the health of the China's equity market. After all, its bread and butter business -- consisting of 80% of its revenue -- is selling premium stock research subscriptions to individual investors in China.
CFO may have stumbled last year, but it's back on track these days.
Last night's second-quarter results were solid. Revenue climbed 24% to $15.3 million, ahead of the 18% spurt that analysts were expecting. After scaring away investors with red ink last year, CFO came through with its second consecutive profitable quarter.
There are now 16.8 million registered users across CFO's websites, 36% ahead of where it was a year ago. It's hoping to hit 20 million users by the end of the year. These are big numbers, but they aren't as important as the subscriber count -- since CFO makes a lot more on premium memberships than it does through online advertising.
CFO is now watching over 139,800 subs, 27% ahead of where it was a year ago and 8% higher sequentially.
Compared to stateside slackers, CFO is a speedster. TheStreet.com (Nasdaq: TSCM ) posted another quarterly loss earlier this month, and isn't trading for much more than the $82.6 in cash and marketable securities on its balance sheet. Shares of Morningstar (Nasdaq: MORN ) are a hiccup away from a new 52-week low, earnings dipped slightly in its latest quarter, and the top line would have dipped slightly if you back out acquisitions and foreign currency translations. The top and bottom lines fell in Value Line's (Nasdaq: VALU ) most recent quarter. The stock has been beaten down to the point where it sports a chunky yield of 5.6%.
FactSet Research (NYSE: FDS ) is holding up better, but its emphasis is on arming institutional investors with equity research tools. CFO is a better match with the other three companies, since institutions account for just 4% of CFO's revenue mix.
The rub with CFO is that while it's raising its 2010 guidance on the bottom line -- expecting its adjusted profit to exceed $4 million -- it's sticking to its projected range of $56 million to $62 million in revenue. After ringing up $30.5 million through the first half of the year, the midpoint of CFO's range implies a slightly softer second half.
We'll have to see how that plays out, because it's been striking plenty of deals to host investing forums and growing its brokerage business. Last year it teamed up with China Unicom (NYSE: CHU ) to be the carrier's exclusive financial news and market data provider for its 3G mobile portal.
It would be a surprise if CFO didn't raise its revenue guidance later this year, or at least tighten it toward the higher end of that range.
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