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Sina Unexpectedly Posts Profit as Advertising Sales Increase

Sina Corp. (SINA), owner of China’s largest Twitter-like service, unexpectedly posted a fourth-quarter profit as advertising sales increased.

Net income fell to $2.36 million from $9.28 million a year earlier, the New York-listed company said in a statement today. Analysts had expected a $900,000 loss, based on the average of seven estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales rose 4.3 percent from a year earlier to $139.1 million.

Sina has boosted spending on development as the more than 400 million users of its Weibo micro-blog service increasingly post from mobile devices rather than personal computers. China’s slower growth has also damped advertising, hitting earnings at online companies including Baidu (BIDU) Inc. and Sohu.com Inc. Sina’s ad sales increased 7 percent to $110.7 million.

“Weibo needs a lot of development and money, especially for the advertising-promotion system,” Ma Yuan, a Hong Kong- based analyst at Bocom International Holdings, said before the announcement. She rates Sina neutral.

Sina predicted first-quarter non-GAAP sales of $115 million to $119 million, including advertising revenue of $94 million to $96 million, according to the statement.

Baidu, the operator of China’s largest search engine, posted the slowest profit growth in almost four years in the quarter ended December. Fourth-quarter net income at Sohu.com fell 9 percent, according to a Feb. 4 statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at ychen447@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

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