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Sina reports 54% leap in profit for 2008

SINA Corp, China's biggest Internet portal, reported a more than 50 percent year-on-year increase in profit last year as a result of strong online advertising revenue.

Net profit for 2008 reached US$88.8 million, up 54 percent, or US$1.47 per share. Net revenue was up 50 percent to US$369 million with advertising income totaling US$258.5 million, accounting for 70 percent of its total revenue.

Revenue for the last quarter of 2008 was up 46 percent from the same period in the previous year but 4 percent down from the previous quarter to US$101.5 million.

The company set its total revenue for the first quarter of 2009 to between US$73 million and US$77 million, lower than an estimate of US$88 million in a Bloomberg News survey.

The company said it was unclear how its online advertising business would perform this year due to the global financial turmoil.

Its shares fell 8.7 percent in after-hours trading on the Nasdaq on Monday.

Charles Chao, CEO of Sina noted that the impact has been "severe" in the first quarter as customers have delayed advertising budgets.

But he showed confidence the merger with Focus Media's outdoor advertising business would expand Sina's presence in China's advertising market.

The company announced in December that it would acquire all of Focus Media's outdoor digital advertising networks in an all-stock transaction valued at US$1.8 billion. Domestic online advertising was worth 18 billion yuan (US$2.63 billion) in 2008, a 71-percent growth from 2007.



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