China’s largest B2C e-commerce company, E-Commerce China Dangdang Inc. (NYSE: DANG) reported first quarter results last night that did not stir investors much until they got to the forecast. The company’s loss per ADR was smaller than expected, -$0.20 compared with a consensus estimate of -$0.24 on revenue of $172.1 million, which was lower than the expected $175.6 million. The outlook was pretty weak though.
Dangdang said it expects second quarter revenue of about $187.5 million, substantially lower than the consensus estimate of $202.5 million. As with first quarter results, revenue continues to grow by 50% or better year-over-year, but that’s not good enough. Renren Inc. (NYSE: RENN), China’s answer to Facebook, posted higher revenue in the first quarter, but costs soared 90% and the company’s forecast came in lower than the consensus estimate.
SINA Corp. (NASDAQ: SINA), which owns the country’s largest Twitter-like site Weibo, showed significant growth in its first quarter results as well, but it forecast higher costs and continued weakness in advertising as weighing down future results. Sohu.com Inc. (NASDAQ: SOHU), China’s third largest search engine, also forecast weak advertising sales for the second quarter. China’s search engine leader, Baidu Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU), recently shuttered an e-commerce competitor to Dangdang and launched its own low-cost Android-based phone as the company continues to extend its reach beyond search. Baidu forecast lower-than-expected second quarter revenues as well.
Youku Inc. (NYSE: YOKU), a YouTube look-alike, is scheduled to announce results after markets close today. The company is expected to post an EPS loss of -$0.21 on revenue of $41.2 million. Another Internet video player, Tudou Holdings Ltd. (NASDAQ: TUDO) is scheduled to announce results next Monday and is expected to post an EPS loss of -$0.88 on revenue of $21.75 million.
China’s Internet users now number more than 550 million, according to a report at Mashable, but the annual growth rate has tumbled from a mind-boggling 50%+ to around 12%. And China trails only the US in the number of Internet shoppers, with 145 million people having made online purchases last year. The average number of purchases per month per customer is 8.4, well-above the second place US, where a customer averages 5.2 purchases a month.
But Chinese Internet companies have had a difficult time translating these numbers into yuan. The prevailing view among analysts appears to be that the revenue dam will burst real soon now, but not a single one of these companies has a higher share price today than it did a year ago. Dangdang is down a whopping -68% over the past 12 months and both SINA and Renren are off more than -50%. Baidu, which has lost just -9% in the past year, is the best performer. That’s a pretty sorry showing. Expecting this to change anytime soon may be wishful thinking.
Shares of Dangdang are off -15% in the early afternoon today, at $6.36 in a 52-week range of $4.11-$22.45. Shares of the other Chinese Internet players are also down this afternoon, but most by less than -3%.