Renren (NYSE: RENN) displeased investors when it reported third quarter earnings in November. Revenue grew 47%, but profits went missing again. Operating losses widened from $6.4 to $20.6 million. Liquid assets also declined by more than $148 million as a 190% increase in bandwidth and in-house game development appeared to eat into cash flow.
Share repurchases may have also played a role. Renren spent $101.8 million to buy back 24.2 million American Depository Shares, equal to about $4.21 each. The stock trades for well under $4 as of this writing. Whether more buybacks are in order is unknown at this point, but the capital is there. Renren ended Q3 with $892 million in cash, short-term investments, and term deposits versus no debt.
In terms of its business units, Renren reported encouraging metrics in newer businesses such Nuomi, a group buying platform similar to Groupon here in the U.S. The service caters to 3.1 million active users, 43% of which have made repeat purchases.
Online advertising revenue, once the company's bread and butter, fell in Q3 while Internet Value Added Services, or IVAS, where game revenue is recorded, saw sales more than double.
Calling Renren the Facebook of China may no longer be accurate. With its emphasis on gaming, the company more closely resembles a combination of Facebook and Zynga.
At the time of publication, Tim Beyers owned shares of Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Cisco Systems and Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Facebook, NetEase, and SINA.