SINA's (Nasdaq: SINA) latest quarter has gone topsy-turvy.

On a reported basis, investors may be tickled with the whopping $6.03-a-share profit, but disillusioned by the 3% year-over-year dip in revenue. However, you may as well run those numbers through a shredder -- or at least flip them over. 

The more accurate non-GAAP results paint an entirely different picture. Earnings fell 35% to $0.31 a share on an adjusted basis. SINA's tweaked revenue rose 5% to $93.5 million, propelled by a surprising 12% uptick in advertising revenue.

It's natural to be skeptical when companies lean on non-GAAP metrics, but that's the way to go with SINA. Back in October, the Chinese new-media company combined its online housing-technology arm with E-House (NYSE: EJ) to form China Real Estate Information (Nasdaq: CRIC). The spinoff generated a huge one-time gain on a reported basis, but it's also tripping up the company's year-over-year comparisons.

Even on a non-GAAP basis, it's encouraging to see SINA's ad revenue outpace its earlier guidance. Fellow brand advertising specialist (Nasdaq: SOHU) managed just a 2% year-over-year advance during the same three months. Real-world advertising in China held up better than that, judging by the double-digit top-line gains posted by AirMedia (Nasdaq: AMCN) and VisionChina (Nasdaq: VISN).

Was Mr. Market impressed with SINA's showing? Not exactly. The stock headed lower in after-hours trading last night, driven primarily by the company's inability to meet analyst expectations. Remember that $0.31 a share in non-GAAP profit? Wall Street was betting on $0.36 a share. SINA had topped analyst bottom-line targets in each of the 13 previous quarters, so shareholders have a right to be as spoiled as they may be shocked over the miss.

SINA is holding up reasonably well in this climate, but now it has to win back its disappointed investors.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a fan of China's high-margin online stocks for a long time. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.