Chinese Internet Stocks Heating Up With Action

Sina (NASDAQ:SINA) shares have taken a turn for the positive on analyst upgrades after the company announced it was considering monetizing its Weibo microblogging service, which is called the country’s Twitter. “Although we expect macroeconomic headwinds to continue into the second quarter, we have begun test trials of Weibo brand advertising, which is powered by a social interest graph recommendation engine, and expect this new product offering to have a meaningful impact on our brand advertising business in the second half of this year,” chief executive Charles Chao said in a statement. “The initial feedback from advertisers on our Weibo advertising is encouraging, and we believe it is critical that SINA continues its significant investments in social media and related initiatives.”

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Barclays raised its rating on the stock to Overweight from Equal Weight and set a target price of $72, up from $66. Credit Suisse also lifted its rating on the shares, moving to Outperform from Neutral with an even higher price target of $76.

Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) is trying to provide a push for its new lower-cost smartphone through integration with the company’s Cloud Smart Terminal. Baidu launched the Changhong H5018 with a forked version of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android on the China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) network, but while the smartphone is not likely to be a foil for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) or traditional Android phones, the Chinese search leader is hoping cloud integration will give it somewhat of an edge. Baidu’s Cloud Smart Terminal allows users to access its services, including search and applications, without needing to connect to the Internet. Baidu will also provide all Changhong H5018 users with 100GB of free cloud storage. “The Baidu Cloud Smart terminal platform is a crucial step in Baidu’s overall cloud strategy in the mobile Internet sphere,” Baidu’s vice president of engineering, Jing Wang, noted in a company statement.

Last month, Baidu had also joined hands with Tencent Holdings and Sohu.com (NASDAQ:SOHU) to start offering online video services in China.

Renren (NYSE:RENN), China’s Facebook, is seeing a steady growth in online advertisement as well as Internet value-added services revenue, even as it reported a first-quarter loss. Online ad revenue increased 15 percent on its growing user base and advertisers’ adoption of its SNS platform. Revenue from Internet value-added services rose 83 percent, helped by a good response to new online games. Total revenue in the quarter grew 56 percent to $32.1 million, above the company’s March projection of $28 million to $30 million. The company also added to its monthly unique log-in users, moving to 40 million in March from 31 million a year ago. Renren had 154 million activated user accounts at the end of March, up from 117 million a year ago. Overall, Renren posted a loss of $13.6 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of $2.6 million. Renren has several successful properties aside from its social network, including video sharing site 56.com and a daily-deals website called Nuomi.com that uses the same concept as Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN).

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