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Sina Could Be the Value Way to Invest in Chinese Internet Growth

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Investors shouldn't forget Sina (SINA) amid all of the hoopla surrounding JD.com's (JD) initial public offering this week.

Congratulations are definitely in order for JD.com, the Chinese e-commerce company that price its shares at $19 each, above the expected range of $16-$18, and then saw them close Thursday's session even higher, at $20.90.

This strength contrasted markedly with the sharp falls suffered by two other Chinese Internet stocks: Sina and Weibo (WB).

Sina has a fully diluted 54% percent stake in Weibo, which China's second largest micro-blogging site. Sina's shares have performed poorly so far during 2014, falling about 50% from their January high.

Both Sina and the recently listed Weibo reported first-quarter results after the close Wednesday. Although revenue grew 38% and 161%, respectively, second-quarter guidance failed to match analysts' expectations.

A decision by the Chinese government to revoke some literature publishing and online video transmission licenses caused uncertainty for Sina while Weibo -- just like Twitter (TWTR) in its latest quarterly announcement -- struggled to show as rapid a monetization of its micro-blogging service as hoped.

Sina's stake in Weibo is currently worth slightly more than $2 billion. Although there is certainly a very active debate about the valuation of micro-blogging stocks (for example, Twitter) it is also worth noting that just prior to Weibo's listing, Alibaba -- part-owned by Yahoo! (YHOO) and poised for its own IPO in the U.S. -- took up an option to increase its own Weibo stake to 30%. Alibaba sees much greater value than the market currently does.

This is good news for Sina, which has a market capitalization of nearly $2.9 billion. As the company noted on its conference call following its quarterly report: "...following Weibo's IPO, SINA's own cash balance exceeded $1.6 billion, which does not include the inter-company loan of approximately $250 million it expects to receive from Weibo."

So some simple math tells us the current value of Sina's stake in Weibo plus the anticipated cash level on its balance sheet is more than 25% greater than its current stock price.

Additionally, Sina is not standing still. It approved a share repurchase program of up to $500 million in April and has $520 million in book value of other Chinese Internet and related assets on its balance sheet after using its cash in the past to make strategic investments to "strengthen their online media ecosystem as well as take stake in product and technology companies where we do not have core expertise."

Given how fast the Chinese Internet and related markets are growing, this stock has some promise, even if further investment from the current cash balance is highly likely.

Sina has been horribly volatile in 2014, but it's likely to have a much better second half this year.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

At the time of publication, Bailey had positions in Sina and Twitter.

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