This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Weibo IPO Is a Test for Twitter, Alibaba

Updated from 8:25 a.m. ET to include closing share prices

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Weibo (WB), often referred to as the Chinese version of Twitter (TWTR), began trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on Thursday, surging over 19% after the company priced its initial public offering at the low end of its expected range.

The listing brought yet another fast-growing social media company to U.S. stock markets and could be a leading indicator of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group's much anticipated IPO.

Beijing-based Weibo sold 16.8 million American depositary shares of its Class A stock at a price of $17 a share, or the low-end of its expected range. However, Weibo shares popped on their first day of trading, rising over 19% to close at $20.24 a share. Underwriters Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse will have the option to purchase an additional 2.52 million shares to cover over-allotments.

In total, Weibo raised $285.56 million in its IPO. The company first filed for a U.S. stock offering in mid-March.

In China, Weibo provides a way for users and organizations to publicly express themselves in real time and interact with others in a similar fashion to Twitter in the U.S. The company was founded in 2009 and is majority owned by Chinese internet company SINA (SINA). In the filing, Weibo said that it would use some IPO proceeds to repay loans to its parent company, Sina.

In early 2013, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba invested $585.8 million in Weibo for approximately 18% of the company's outstanding shares. According to a disclosure, Alibaba can increase its stake in the company to 30%. Alibaba is partially owned by Yahoo! (YHOO), which has a 24% stake in the Chinese Internet giant.

In March, Alibaba announced that it too would be going public, seeking a listing in the United States, and not Hong Kong. On Tuesday, a disclosure in Yahoo's first-quarter earnings showed that Alibaba's profits more than doubled to $1.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Weibo vs. Twitter

As of the end of 2013, Weibo had 129.1 million monthly active users and 61.4 million average daily active users. Over 70% of the company's monthly active users in accessed Weibo through mobile devices in December. Those figures indicate Weibo's user base is about half the size of Twitter, but its users are growing at a far-faster rate.

The company also relies upon minority investor Alibaba for a significant portion of its earnings.

Weibo generates revenues from advertising and marketing, similar to Twitter, but generates a lot of advertising revenue from one client, Alibaba. The company noted its advertising and marketing revenues increased by 191% from $51.0 million in 2012. However, advertising sold to Alibaba accounted for $49.1 million, or 33.1%, of its advertising and marketing revenues in 2013.

In total, Weibo generated $188 million in revenue in 2013, a near quadrupling of sales versus year-ago levels. The company, however, only saw its net loss narrow from $102 million in 2012 to $38 million this year.

Weibo has non-advertising earnings streams, including game-related services, and VIP memberships. Other revenues rose 168% year-over-year to $39.9 million in 2013.

Gaming Business

Revenue from game-related services increased jumped to $22.9 million in 2013 from $12.7 million in 2012, while VIP membership revenue rose to $11.1 million from $2.2 million in 2012.

The company ended 2013 with 700,000 VIP members, up from 400,000 in 2012. "Our introduction of additional sources of other revenues in 2013 to further monetize our user base and the content on our platform, including data licensing, also contributed to the increase," the company noted in its March F-1 filing.

On a measure of adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) Weibo's annual loss narrowed from $80 million in 2012 to a loss of $6.3 million in 2013. Were it not for Weibo's "investor option liability" the company would have generated positive EBITDA in 2013.

In the nine months prior to Twitter's IPO, the company generated $30.7 million in adjusted EBITDA and had a user base of nearly double that reported by Weibo.

-- Written by Antoine Gara and Chris Ciaccia in New York.

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,098.45 +18.88 0.11%
S&P 500 2,003.37 +6.63 0.33%
NASDAQ 4,580.2710 +22.5760 0.50%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs