Forget Twitter, why Weibo is the social stock to watch

Oliver Smith
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Last week’s US float of Chinese social network Weibo – think a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook – saw investors rush into the stock buoying it 33 per cent in the first two days of trading.

One of the reasons for this is Weibo looks like a great deal for those hoping to capitalise on the momentum in social and China’s internet growth story.

In 2013 Weibo’s revenue grew 190 per cent to $188m (£111.8m), and for 2014 this is expected to reach $400m.

At the same time Weibo currently trades at a relatively cheap valuation of 10 times its 2014 expected sales, Twitter on the other hand trades at 20 times its 2014 expected sales.

But while Weibo only boasts 144m monthly active users (MAUs) – compared to Twitter’s 241m MAUs – it operates in the high-growth Chinese market of 1.4bn potential customers, whereas Twitter is blocked by China’s internet censorship restrictions.

There is risk however, last year Weibo’s user base actually shrunk by 28m users due to Chinese authorities clamping down on certain posts that they deem inappropriate, leading users to abandon the service.

As long as Weibo navigates the murky waters of Chinese censorship without putting off too many of its users, it could remain very attractive to investors.

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