Why SOHU is the best buy in the China Internet Space

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  YOKU acquires TUDO:  Why isn't SOHU worth $90?

 

YOKU's acquisition of competitor TUDO yesterday represents a strong move to consolidate online video in China.  Considering the current market, there were just three impact players:  YOKU, TUDO and SOHU …. and now there are two.  The market reaction to the transaction, including today's substantial follow-through up-bid in both the acquirer and the acquired, means that the market is valuing video in China as "the next big thing".   If the market was saying "YOKU overpaid", YOKU would have sold off, but instead it is rallying further. 

Looking at December's figures, which are representative of trends in the second half of 2011, we see:

December 2011
Video Websites,
 Total Minutes, millions

Total Page Views, millions

YOKU TV

1,801

2,142

TUDO Sites

1,405

2,097

SOHU TV

2,445

2,155

Next 5 competitors combined

1,738

2,256

Data source JP Morgan

These numbers validate the attractiveness of SOHU's content, demonstrating stickiness by attracting viewers to view more minutes per page view than its competitors.

Yesterday's purchase of TUDO for appx $40 a share in YOKU stock sent both YOKU and TUDO soaring, validating a purchase price north of 1.5 Billion USD.  The case for SOHU Video being worth more is obvious.  

SOHU TV is not an afterthought.   It has been carefully assembled, and streams some of China's highest quality content from Sony, Disney and MGM amongst others.  As the CEO stated on their last conference call, they stream 21 of China's top 30 prime time dramas.  All this has caused their viewer metrics to have grown 250% to 300% since Q1 2011. 

SOHU is an integrated internet operator, with strong positions in games, streaming video, search, and a leading portal.  Its games business comes via its 63% ownership of publicly traded Changyou, a leading online games vendor in China.  Sogou's Pinyin search has demonstrated genuine popularity with users, and is steadily gaining market share in a sector written off to domination by "winner take all" dynamics.

We rate SOHU's business development strategies as coherent and credible.   

Taking a "sum of the parts look" at SOHU's enterprise value,  JP Morgan does a conservative and credible job of valuing search, portal and games components.  But given what we now know about the enterprise value of video, we see SOHU north of $90 a share.   

 

Segment

Value (mil USD)

Comment

SOGU

200

Search, gaining market share, in a sector written off as impossible

Games — CYOU

1,000

Leading player in the space, DD Tank

Portal

700

Conservative in relation to SINA and others

Video

1,200

Pegged by YOKU TUDO transaction

Cash

500

In addition to CYOU cash position

Sum of parts

3,600

Conservative Valuation estimate

Shares o/s

38.76

Million shares

Valuation p/s

$93.00

 

 

We couldn't help noticing that even iResearch, in a recent report, measures Sohu's weekly unique visitors 50% higher than Qihoo 360.  If SOHU carried the same market cap as Qihoo, its portal would be valued at $3 billion, and SOHU's per share valuation would be $145.00

 

Company

Category

Weekly UVs(M)

%Change

Tencent

Portal

276.43

+ 4.47%

Baidu

Search

266.81

+ 4.64%

Sina

Portal

188.46

+ 4.16%

Sohu

Portal

181.83

+ 3.84%

NetEase

Portal

129.20

+ 10.24%

Qihoo 360

Navigation

116.25

– 2.83%

Youku

Online Video

131.27

– 0.11%

Company

Category

Weekly UVs(M)

%Change

Renren

SNS

61.31

+ 9.96%

Dangdang

E-commerce

4.40

+ 6.42%

Ctrip

Travel

37.80

+ 8.40%

58.com

Classified Ads

20.98

+ 4.37%

360buy

E-commerce

16.67

+ 6.64%

Lashou

Group Buying

7.38

+ 3.43%

Vancl

E-commerce

8.15

+ 0.53%

Source: iUserTracker, professional user behavior monitor software with more than 200,000 Internet users in China

 

 

No, we don't think SOHU is worth 145, but it demonstrates how ludicrous Qihoo's valuation is at a $23 share price.

Cautious Investing to All.