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Sina Posts Loss as China Slowdown Damps Online Advertising

Sina Corp., owner of China’s largest Twitter-like service, posted a first-quarter loss as an advertising slowdown damped revenue and the company spent more on developing mobile applications.

The net loss narrowed to $13.2 million from $13.7 million a year earlier, the New York-listed company said in a statement today. That compares with the $5.6 million loss, the average of 10 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales rose 19 percent to $126 million.

Sina has boosted spending on the development of apps as the more than 500 million users of its Weibo micro-blog service increasingly post from mobile devices rather than personal computers. China’s economic slowdown has also damped advertising, crimping earnings at other Internet companies including Baidu Inc.

“Sina’s costs on development and staff is quite big,” Deco You, a Beijing-based analyst at Internet consulting group iResearch, said before the announcement. “The company lacks new revenue drivers.”

The Internet company forecast second-quarter non-GAAP revenue of $143 million to $147 million, including advertising revenue of $117 million to $119 million. That compares with the $144 million average of nine estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Sina’s ad sales dropped 15 percent in the first quarter from the three months ended Dec. 31 to $94.3 million, according to the statement.

Sina sold an 18 percent stake of its Weibo unit for $586 million to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in April, as the company tries to capture a greater share of social e-commerce through smartphones and tablet computers.

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