Wednesday, November 24, 2010

China's YouTube IPO in Sweet Spot

By Eric Jackson, Senior Contributor11/24/10 - 06:00 AM EST

We have seen a barrage of new F-1 filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the last couple of weeks for new Chinese-based IPOs which should hit our shores within the next month.

On Monday in RealMoney , I discussed a recent oneBitauto(BITA_), which went public last week and is still clinging to its offer price. That stock is positioning itself as the leader of automotive information on the Web in China.

I've also recently spoken about one of China's versions of YouTube, Tudou (TUDO), which filed earlier this month to go public. Last week, we saw Tudou's top competitor, Youku(YOKU), also file papers with the SEC to go public soon.

The more you follow Chinese companies, the more you see how American investors demand to understand a potential investment in simple comparisons to names they know stateside.Dangdang (DANG), which also filed for an IPO in the last few days, is called China's version ofAmazon(AMZN_). Baidu(BIDU_) used to be called China's Google(GOOG_) -- until Google retreated from the country earlier this year.

Now, with Tudou and Youku, we get the comparisons of both services to YouTube. Actually, both online video sites are more like China's version of YouTube and Hulu (because a majority of their content is licensed), if the U.S. had a much more fragmented online video market.

YouTube (owned by Google) commands 43% of the U.S, online video content market as of June. This is far ahead of Hulu at 3%, Microsoft(MSFT_) at 2% and Viacom(VIA_) at 1%.

In China, where remember that YouTube and Facebook are blocked by the Great Firewall, Youku is the online video leader with a 20% market share. Tudou has a 16% share. There are many other small players, including which is 51% owned by Shanda Interactive(SNDA_) , with much a smaller share of the market. (Youku prefers to state in its IPO document that it holds a 40% market share for the time users spend viewing online videos, with Tudou at 23%.)

Some are concerned about these online video sites wondering if there will be sufficient demand for two similar companies which are not profitable. After all, remember the constant criticism Google took from Wall Street analysts about when YouTube was going to be profitable? Imagine if YouTube had gone public and had to face that criticism on its own. Isn't it natural to expect Youku to face withering criticism, resulting in a lackluster stock price? I don't think so.


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