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Another bumper quarter at Chinese Internet portal Sohu

SOHU.COM Inc announced yesterday that its fourth-quarter profit for 2008 more than tripled from the same period a year earlier, with surging revenue from its online role-playing games and more advertising income.

Sohu's net income for the last three months of 2008 was US$59 million, or US$1.50 per share, beating the average estimate made by a group of Bloomberg News analysts, who predicted US$45.5 million.

Total revenue for the last quarter of 2008 reached US$121.6 million, up 86 percent year-on-year. Online game revenue was 2.4 times that of the same period last year and accounted for 48 percent of total revenue for the quarter ending December 31.

Advertising revenue for the fourth quarter totaled US$46.6 million, a 9-percent fall from the previous quarter but a 38-percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2007.

"We're pleased to say the fourth quarter of 2008 marks our sixth consecutive quarter of record total revenues and net income," said Charles Zhang, chairman and CEO of "We've been successful in leveraging the Beijing Olympics in the past year to promote online marketing and have attracted major advertisers to our portal."

Tian Long Ba Bu, the most popular online role-playing game provided by Sohu, generated a total revenue of US$201.8 million in the fiscal year of 2008, 4.8 times that of the previous year. Sohu is planning to enter the Malaysian and Singaporean market in the second half of 2009.

JP Morgan cut its 2009 earnings forecast for China's Internet portals including, Sina Corp and in late January, saying that slowing economic growth may affect advertising revenue. It said delays in launching online games may pose risks for Sohu.

Sohu predicts revenue of this year's first quarter to be between US$111.5 million and US$115.5 million, with advertising revenue of US$40.5 million to US$42.5 million.



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