China's Dot-Com Darlings Got Crushed Last Week

China's leaders were bleeders last week, with Youku, Dangdang, Baidu, SINA, and Renren all falling sharply.

Mar 17, 2014 at 4:00PM

Investors buying into the Chinese miracle got a rude awakening last week. Several of China's leading Internet players struck out by posting double-digit percentage declines on the week. 

Sure, it was a bad run for stocks in general, but the Nasdaq's 2% slide was a flesh wound compared to the declines suffered by some of China's fast-growing online companies. Let's take a look at a few leaders that were bleeders. 


March 14

Weekly Loss

Youku Tudou (NYSE:YOKU)



Dangdang (NYSE:DANG)









Renren (NYSE:RENN)



Source: Barron's.

Let's start with Youku Tudou. 

The popular provider of online video may not be China's top dog in streaming anymore. A report from Chinese marketing research firm iResearch shows that Baidu's Iqiyi drew more active users -- 94 million versus 83.5 million -- than Youku in January. Youku may have been a big winner two weeks earlier after posting encouraging results and even being identified by a J.P. Morgan analyst as an acquisition target. However, the market doesn't like it when niche supremacy is on the line.

There was no material news dragging Dangdang lower; just like Youku, the stock was merely exhaling after delighting the market with a blowout quarter late last month. The Chinese online retailer of books and other general merchandise surprised analysts with a rare quarterly profit. Dangdang investors probably aren't complaining. Even after last week's drop we're still eyeing a 63% gain so far in 2014.

Baidu may be gaining ground on Youku when it comes to online video, but it appears to be yielding market share in its stronghold of search. Baidu remains dominant, but a report from research firm CNZZ found its share of the search market sliding to 58%. It hasn't been this low in years. 

SINA also dropped  as investors dismissed Chinese dot-coms, but it closed out the week on a positive note when subsidiary Sina Weibo -- the fast-growing microblogging and social media platform -- filed to raise up to $500 million in an upcoming IPO. The news has helped push SINA shares higher today. Sina Weibo is losing money and generated just $188 million in revenue last year, but it's in the early phases of monetizing its voluminous traffic.

Finally we have Renren also suffering a double-digit percentage decline on the week. There was no company-specific news out on the Chinese social networking website operator, but Renren reports quarterly results tomorrow so it will have the final say. Renren has struggled to grow its online advertising in recent quarters, and the real question here is where it will find growth after selling its growing group-buying website to Baidu.

All five of the stocks were trading higher by Monday afternoon, but they all have a lot of ground to make up after last week's slides.

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