Shares of Sohu.com (Nasdaq: SOHU ) climbed 5% higher yesterday, after the Chinese dot-com delivered better than expected third-quarter results.
Revenue growth accelerated during the period, soaring 28% to $173.2 million. Sohu's brand advertising, online gaming, and search businesses all posted year-over-year gains of 30% or better. Sohu's wireless revenue was the lone laggard, off by 8%, but we've known that its mobile value-added services model has been dying for awhile now. Several years ago, wireless was Sohu's bread and butter, but now it accounts for a mere 8% slice of the revenue mix pie.
The news gets even sweeter on the way down to the bottom line, where earnings shot up 41% to $1.07 a share. Analysts were banking on a profit of $0.99 a share on $167.6 million in revenue.
Hopefully investors in Shanda Games (Nasdaq: GAME ) , Perfect World (Nasdaq: PWRD ) , Giant Interactive (NYSE: GA ) , and NetEase.com (Nasdaq: NTES ) were paying attention. They will be reporting in the coming weeks, and Sohu's performance in online gaming is encouraging. Revenue growth is accelerating. Sohu's significant skin in this game -- the result of its majority stake in Changyou (Nasdaq: CYOU ) -- posted an impressive 30% top-line spurt over last year's showing.
Likely taking a jab at the ridiculous valuation of recent IPO Youku.com (Nasdaq: YOKU ) , Sohu points out that its share of online video has grown from 3.4% to 13.4% over the past year. Investors in profitless Youku may be wondering why they're not riding the more diversified and profitable Sohu instead.
The Chinese new-media darling's guidance is also encouraging. It's true that targeting revenue between $164.5 million to $169.5 million for the current quarter represents a small sequential dip. Margins look strong, though, with Sohu's bottom-line outlook of $1.03 a share to $1.08 a share hinting at a healthier performance on the bottom line. Either way, the pros were already braced for a seasonal dip. They figured that Sohu would only earn $0.95 a share on $161.6 million in revenue for the current quarter.
Wrong again, Wall Street. After a rare miss during the previous year's fourth quarter Sohu has rattled off four consecutive market-thumping results.
Looking good, Sohu.
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