NASDAQ-listed Chinese Internet firm Sohu.com saw its revenue double last year with profits rising for a second consecutive quarter.
"2002 was a year of unstoppable momentum for Sohu.com," said Charles Zhang, company chairman and chief executive officer, after releasing the firm's financial results for the fourth quarter and the whole of 2002 yesterday.
"Both our products and online advertising business flourished as users and advertisers recognized the Internet as a mainstream media and entertainment platform in China."
Sohu's revenues last year reached US$28.7 million, rising 121 percent year-on-year and the figure for the fourth quarter was US$10.6 million - 41 percent higher than the third quarter.
Company profits in the fourth quarter also rose by about 17 times to US$1.9 million - or 6 US cents per share - on the third quarter.
Sohu's non-advertising revenues in the fourth quarter increased by 290 percent to US$6.3 million, mainly driven by the growth of paid services and its online store.
In particular demand were the short messaging service (SMS), ring tones and picture download services for mobile phone users.
Advertising revenues rose by 72 percent quarter-on-quarter to US$4.2 million.
Sohu had US$44.2 million cash and cash equivalents at the end of last year, compared with US$43.1 million at the end of the third quarter.
Charles Zhang predicted his company would at least maintain a similar level of profits in this quarter as the last quarter of 2002.
"I am confident that we can reach our financial and operational targets for 2003 by maintaining our strategic direction," he said.
Revenues for this quarter were estimated at US$12.5 million, including US$8.2 million from non-advertising.
Sohu's stocks on the NASDAQ ended at US$8.72 on Friday.
Lu Weigang, a Chinese industrial analyst, said: "Sohu's performance in the fourth quarter was even higher than those in the second quarter when the FIFA World Cup was held and the third quarter, the golden sales season, and that has been a remarkable achievement."
He believed all three NASDAQ-listed portals - Sohu.com, Sina Corp and Netease.com - were in profit or expected to reap profits last year. As a result they may adopt different ways for expansion, so 2003 could be a critical year for their development, Lu said.
The three Internet portals' stocks rose sharply last year due to progress in achieving profit. Netease's stock price rose by more than 19 fold, while Sina's was about sixfold.
(China Daily January 22, 2003)