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Nova Esports Partners with GodLike Esports

Niji Narayan

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Nova Esports Partners with GodLike Esports
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Hong Kong-based Nova Esports has partnered with Indian esports organisation Godlike Esports. The new team will be known as Nova GodLike. Through the deal, Nova GodLike will compete in Tencent’s PUBG Mobile with an Indian roster.

Anthony “AY” Yeung, CEO of Nova Esports, spoke on the reasoning behind the deal in an announcement: “PUBG Mobile is currently trending in the gaming section of India. It has surpassed other games in terms of popularity and revenue and made a place for itself in Indian pop culture. Even people who have not played the game would have seen and heard about it through various social media memes and posts.”

Nova Esports has several goals it hopes to achieve through its new Nova GodLike brand, namely succeeding in global PUBG Mobile competitions, turning its players into public figures, attracting other organisations to the Indian esports market, and creating “high quality content for the community.”

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AGTech Announces Interim Results For The Six Months Ended June 30, 2020

George Miller

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AGTech Announces Interim Results For The Six Months Ended June 30, 2020
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AGTech Holdings Limited, a leading integrated lottery, games and entertainment technology company in China, announced the interim results for the six months ended June 30, 2020.

According to MOF figures, during the Six-Month Period, lottery market recorded sales of approximately RMB123.9 billion, a decrease of approximately 41.7% compared to the corresponding period in 2019. Other than the closure of national lottery market during Chinese Lunar New Year, the drop in sales was mainly due to the impact of Novel Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) outbreak while the business hours of lottery sales outlets were significantly reduced. Lottery sales activities have since resumed in March 2020, and the Group will continue to closely monitor the latest development and recovery post pandemic.

AGTech’s Hardware division primarily supplies the Sports Lottery and the Welfare Lottery and has hardware deployed in multiple provinces, cities, municipalities and autonomous regions across China. During the Six-Month Period under review, the Group won five lottery hardware tenders to supply lottery terminals to the SLACs in Anhui province, Shanxi province, Jilin province, Hubei province and Guizhou province of the PRC. The Group will continue to pursue tenders to supply to the lottery and other hardware market and bid for new contracts after resumption of tenders post COVID-19 delays.

Transition to new retail models presents a great opportunity for the further development of the Group’s hardware business. Many of the hardware supplies required under such new retail concept share similar technology and components that underlie the lottery hardware products supplied by the Group throughout the years. We believe our hardware division continues to be well positioned to take advantage of such opportunities in the foreseeable future.

The Group continues to operate the lottery channel on mobile Taobao and mobile Alipay to serve as a one-stop platform on lottery related information for existing and potential customers. With the recent addition of sporting content and sports intelligence services to our lottery channel, we expect to roll out further engagement features and tools to improve user experience and engagement.

From a lottery products point of view, we have identified instant scratch lottery games to be an important product initiative for the coming year, as we will be dedicating resources to open up this market within the lottery sector.

FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS

Revenue of the Group for the Six-Month Period amounted to approximately HK$43.9 million, representing a decrease of approximately 8.0% over the corresponding period in 2019. Revenue contributions were mainly derived from lottery hardware, lottery games and systems, provision of lottery distribution and ancillary services, games and entertainment business in the PRC.
The decrease in revenue for the Six-Month Period was primarily caused by the decrease in sales of lottery hardware of approximately HK$6.6 million and decrease of approximately HK$1.0 million in revenue from games and entertainment division, partially offset by an increase of approximately HK$4.6 million from the lottery games and systems.
The decrease in revenue from hardware business was due to slower tendering processes and hardware deliveries in several provinces as compared to the corresponding period in 2019 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.The increase in revenue from the lottery games and systems was caused by the increase in sales volume from the virtual sports lottery games in the second quarter of 2020 after the reopening of PRC lottery market.
Operating loss for the Six-Month Period was approximately HK$105.6 million, representing a decrease of approximately 12.1% over the corresponding period in 2019.
About AGTech Holdings Limited

AGTech was incorporated in Bermuda and its shares are listed on the GEM (Stock Code: 08279). AGTech is an integrated technology and services company engaged in the lottery and mobile games and entertainment market with a focus on China and selected international markets. A member of the Alibaba Group with around 340 employees, AGTech is the exclusive lottery platform of Alibaba Group and Ant Group.

AGTech’s businesses are broadly divided into two categories:

Lottery (including hardware, games and systems, provision of distribution and ancillary services); and
Games and Entertainment.
AGTech is a Gold Contributor of the World Lottery Association (WLA), an associate member of the Asia Pacific Lottery Association (APLA), and an official partner of the International Mind Sports Association (IMSA).

Source: AGTech Holdings Limited

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Matsui Gaming Introduces Antimicrobial Casino Chips

Niji Narayan

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Matsui Gaming Introduces Antimicrobial Casino Chips
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Matsui Gaming, the Japanese gaming manufacturer, has launched a new series of casino chips that are equipped with Nova Guard Chip Protect, which can reportedly eliminate and block the growth of microorganisms.

The chips look and fee like the same and have same normal weight. The antimicrobial material is coated into the plastic rim and center decal.

“We are very excited to introduce our new gaming chips with added Nova Guard material,” Managing Director of Matsui Asia Shigeki Machida said in a press release. “Since the start of the global pandemic now over six months ago, we have worked very hard and invested a lot to develop and prepare this product for mass production. Whilst the pandemic was moving rapidly from Asia to Europe and then to the Americas, we have seen and spoken with numerous casinos who had started using their own methods of cleaning and sterilising chips, from antiviral sprays to Ultraviolet Sterilisers.”

“Although they may be a temporary solution, they do not come without risk of damaging the individual chip’s material strength but also changing the chip colors over prolonged use,” he added. “Our Nova Guard Chip Protect chips will not require any such process or carry that risk as the chips’ own active antimicrobial properties are an inbuilt protection to stop the spread of virus causing bacteria.”

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Sohu.com Reports Second Quarter 2020 Unaudited Financial Results

George Miller

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Sohu.com Reports Second Quarter 2020 Unaudited Financial Results
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Sohu.com Limited, China’s leading online media, video, search and gaming business group, reported unaudited financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2020.

Second Quarter Highlights[1]

The privatization of Changyou was completed on April 17, 2020. After the effectiveness of the transaction, Changyou’s net income/loss was wholly attributable to Sohu.com Limited. For the second quarter of 2020, Changyou recognized an additional accrual of withholding income tax of US$88 million, as Changyou changed its policy for its PRC subsidiaries with respect to distribution of cash dividends after the completion of the privatization.

Total revenues were US$421 million[2], down 9% year-over-year and 3% quarter-over-quarter.
Brand advertising revenues were US$38 million, down 14% year-over-year and up 48% quarter-over-quarter.
Search and search related advertising revenues[3] were US$241 million, down 13% year-over-year and up 1% quarter-over-quarter.

Online game revenues were US$106 million, up 4% year-over-year and down 21% quarter-over-quarter.
GAAP net loss attributable to Sohu.com Limited was US$80 million. Excluding the impact of the additional accrual of withholding income tax described above, GAAP net income attributable to Sohu.com Limited was US$8 million, compared with a net loss of US$35 million in the second quarter of 2019 and a net loss of US$20 million in the first quarter of 2020.
Excluding the impact of the additional accrual of withholding income tax described above, non-GAAP net income attributable to Sohu.com Limited was US$11 million. Further excluding the loss generated by Sogou, non-GAAP net income attributable to Sohu.com Limited was US$12 million, compared with a net loss of US$41 million in the second quarter of 2019 and a net loss of US$8 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Dr. Charles Zhang, Chairman and CEO of Sohu.com Limited, commented, “In the second quarter of 2020, our brand advertising business performed well, the brand advertising revenue had a decent increase, up 48% quarter-over-quarter. Both the brand advertising revenue and bottom line exceeded our prior guidance. During the quarter, we integrated our Media Portal’s brand advantage and influence with Sohu Video’s advanced broadcast technologies. These initiatives allowed us to more effectively generate and distribute our high-quality original content, and further enhanced our credibility by reflecting the attitude and values of Sohu. For Changyou, the privatization was completed on April 17, 2020, and after that Changyou’s net income/loss was wholly attributable to Sohu.com Limited. During the second quarter of 2020, online game revenues met our prior guidance and declined quarter-over-quarter, mainly due to the resumption of work following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. For Sogou, it delivered in-line results in the second quarter with Search maintaining a steady share of traffic and Mobile Keyboard further expanding its DAU base.”

[1] As Changyou’s cinema advertising business ceased operations during the third quarter of 2019, its results of operations have been excluded from the Company’s results from continuing operations in the condensed consolidated statements of operations and are presented in separate line items as discontinued operations. Retrospective adjustments to the historical statements have been made in order to provide a consistent basis of comparison. Unless indicated otherwise, results presented in this release are related to continuing operations only, and exclude results from the cinema advertising business.

[2] On a constant currency (non-GAAP) basis, if the exchange rate in the second quarter of 2020 had been the same as it was in the second quarter of 2019, or RMB6.81=US$1.00, US$ total revenues in the second quarter of 2020 would have been US$438 million, or US$17 million more than GAAP total revenues, and down 5% year-over-year.

[3] Search and Search related advertising revenues exclude intra-Group transactions.

Second Quarter Financial Results

Revenues

Total revenues for the second quarter of 2020 were US$421 million, down 9% year-over-year and 3% quarter-over-quarter.

Total online advertising revenues, which include revenues from the brand advertising and search and search-related advertising businesses, for the second quarter of 2020 were US$279 million, down 13% year-over-year and up 6% quarter-over-quarter.

Brand advertising revenues for the second quarter of 2020 totaled US$38 million, down 14% year-over-year and up 48% quarter-over-quarter. The year-over-year decrease was mainly due to the continuous negative impact on the brand advertising industry from the outbreak of the COVID-19 in the first quarter of 2020. The quarter-over-quarter increase was mainly due to the increased revenues in our portal and video advertising businesses as a result of our continuing efforts to boost our revenues and the easing of the impact of COVID-19.

Search and search-related advertising revenues for the second quarter of 2020 were US$241 million, down 13% year-over-year and up 1% quarter-over-quarter.

Online game revenues for the second quarter of 2020 were US$106 million, up 4% year-over-year and down 21% quarter-over-quarter. The quarter-over-quarter decrease was mainly due to a decrease in player engagement as a result of work resumption during the quarter following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in China.

Gross Margin

Both GAAP and non-GAAP[4] gross margin was 41% for the second quarter of 2020, compared with 46% in the second quarter of 2019 and 37% in the first quarter of 2020.

Both GAAP and non-GAAP gross margin for the online advertising business for the second quarter of 2020 was 23%, compared with 33% in the second quarter of 2019 and 10% in the first quarter of 2020.

Both GAAP and non-GAAP gross margin for the brand advertising business in the second quarter of 2020 were 40%, compared with 28% in the second quarter of 2019 and nil in the first quarter of 2020. The year-over-year margin improvement was mainly due to decreased video content cost. The quarter-over-quarter margin improvement was mainly due to increased revenues in the portal and video advertising businesses.

Both GAAP and non-GAAP gross margin for the search and search-related advertising business in the second quarter of 2020 were 21%, compared with 34% in the second quarter of 2019 and 11% in the first quarter of 2020. The year-over-year decrease primarily resulted from an increase in traffic acquisition cost as a percentage of search and search related advertising revenues. The quarter-over-quarter increase was due to a decrease in traffic acquisition cost as a percentage of search and search related advertising revenues due to normalized user traffic following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in China.

GAAP gross margin for online games in the second quarter of 2020 was 77%, compared with 82% in the second quarter of 2019 and 79% in the first quarter of 2020. Non-GAAP gross margin for online games in the second quarter of 2020 was 78%, compared with 82% in the second quarter of 2019 and 79% in the first quarter of 2020. The year-over-year decrease in gross margin was mainly due to an increase in revenue-sharing payments related to TLBB Honor, which was launched during the third quarter of 2019.

[4] Non-GAAP results exclude share-based compensation expense; non-cash tax benefits from excess tax deductions related to share-based awards; changes in fair value recognized in the Company’s consolidated statements of operations with respect to equity investments with readily determinable fair values; a one-time impairment charge recognized for an investment unrelated to the Company’s core businesses; income/expense from the adjustment of contingent consideration previously recorded for acquisitions; dividends and deemed dividends to non-controlling preferred shareholders of Sogou; a one-time income tax expense recognized in the fourth quarter of 2017 as a result of the one-time transition tax (the “Toll Charge”) imposed by the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law on December 22, 2017 (the “TCJA”); the subsequent re-evaluation for the fourth quarter of 2018 and adjustment of the tax expense previously recognized for the Toll Charge; the resulting recognition of a previously unrecognized tax benefit and recording of an uncertain tax position related to the balance of the Toll Charge; and interest accrued in relation to the previously unrecognized tax benefit. Explanation of the Company’s non-GAAP financial measures and related reconciliations to GAAP financial measures are included in the accompanying “Non-GAAP Disclosure” and “Reconciliations of Non-GAAP Results of Operation Measures to the Nearest Comparable GAAP Measures.”

Operating Expenses

For the second quarter of 2020, GAAP operating expenses totaled US$194 million, down 13% year-over-year and up 4% quarter-over-quarter. Non-GAAP operating expenses were US$187 million, down 14% year-over-year and up 3% quarter-over-quarter. The year-over-year decrease in operating expenses was mainly due to decreased marketing expenses.

Operating Loss

GAAP operating loss for the second quarter of 2020 was US$23 million, compared with an operating loss of US$11 million in the second quarter of 2019 and an operating loss of US$24 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Non-GAAP operating loss for the second quarter of 2020 was US$16 million, compared with an operating loss of US$7 million in the second quarter of 2019 and an operating loss of US$20 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Income Tax Expense

GAAP income tax expense was US$85 million for the second quarter of 2020, compared with income tax expense of US$4 million in the second quarter of 2019 and income tax expense of US$14 million in the first quarter of 2020. Non-GAAP income tax expense was US$82 million for the second quarter of 2020, compared with income tax expense of US$2 million in the second quarter of 2019 and income tax expense of US$11 million in the first quarter of 2020. For the second quarter of 2020, Changyou recognized an additional accrual of withholding income tax of US$88 million, as Changyou changed its policy for its PRC subsidiaries with respect to distribution of cash dividends after the completion of the privatization of Changyou.

Net Income/(Loss)

GAAP net loss attributable to Sohu.com Limited for the second quarter of 2020 was US$80 million, or a net loss of US$2.04 per fully-diluted ADS. Non-GAAP net loss attributable to Sohu.com Limited for the second quarter of 2020 was US$77 million, or a net loss of US$1.96 per fully-diluted ADS.

Excluding the impact of the additional accrual of withholding income tax described above, GAAP net income attributable to Sohu.com Limited for the second quarter of 2020 was US$8 million, or a net income of US$0.20 per fully-diluted ADS; non-GAAP net income attributable to Sohu.com Limited for the second quarter of 2020 was US$11 million, or a net income of US$0.27 per fully-diluted ADS.

Liquidity

As of June 30, 2020, cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments held by the Sohu Group, minus short-term bank loans, were US$1.35 billion, compared with US$1.51 billion as of December 31, 2019.

Supplementary Information for Changyou Results

Second Quarter 2020 Operational Results

For PC games, total average monthly active accounts[5] were 1.9 million, a decrease of 5% year-over-year and 10% quarter-over-quarter. Total quarterly aggregate active paying accounts[6] were 0.9 million, flat year-over-year and a decrease of 10% quarter-over-quarter. The quarter-over-quarter decreases were mainly due to a decrease in player engagement as a result of the resumption of work during the quarter following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in China.

For mobile games, total average monthly active accounts were 3.1 million, an increase of 15% year-over-year and a decrease of 9% quarter-over-quarter. The year-over-year increase was mainly due to the contribution of TLBB Honor, which was launched during the third quarter of 2019. Total quarterly aggregate active paying accounts were 0.6 million, flat year-over-year and a decrease of 40% quarter-over-quarter. The quarter-over-quarter decreases were mainly due to a decrease in player engagement as a result of the resumption of work during the quarter following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in China.
[5] Monthly active accounts refers to the number of registered accounts that are logged in to these games at least once during the month.

[6] Quarterly aggregate active paying accounts refers to the number of accounts from which game points are utilized at least once during the quarter.

Second Quarter 2020 Unaudited Financial Results

Total revenues for the second quarter of 2020 were US$109 million, an increase of 3% year-over-year and a decrease of 20% quarter-over-quarter. Online game revenues were US$106 million, an increase of 4% year-over-year and a decrease of 21% quarter-over-quarter. Online advertising revenues were US$3 million, a decrease of 16% year-over-year and an increase of 23% quarter-over-quarter.

GAAP and non-GAAP gross profit for the second quarter of 2020 were both US$85 million, a decrease of 2% year-over-year and 21% quarter-over-quarter.

GAAP operating expenses for the second quarter were US$51 million, an increase of 10% year-over-year and a decrease of 6% quarter-over-quarter. The year-over-year increase in operating expenses was mainly due to an increase in share-based compensation expenses as new share-based awards took effect in the fourth quarter of 2019. The quarter-over-quarter decrease was mainly due to a decrease in marketing and promotional spending for TLBB Honor.

Non-GAAP operating expenses for the second quarter were US$48 million, a decrease of 1% year-over-year and 6% quarter-over-quarter.

GAAP operating profit for the second quarter of 2020 was US$33 million, compared with an operating profit of US$40 million in the second quarter of 2019 and US$52 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Non-GAAP operating profit for the second quarter of 2020 was US$37 million, compared with a non-GAAP operating profit of US$38 million in the second quarter of 2019 and US$56 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Recent Developments

On July 27, 2020, Sohu’s subsidiary Sogou announced that its board of directors (the “Sogou Board”) received a letter containing a preliminary non-binding proposal (the “Proposal”) from Tencent Holdings Limited (including its affiliates, “Tencent”) for Tencent to acquire all of the outstanding ordinary shares, including ordinary shares represented by ADSs, of Sogou that are not already owned by Tencent for US$9.00 in cash per ordinary share or ADS (as the same may be amended from time to time, a “Proposed Transaction”). The Proposed Transaction, if completed, would result in Sogou becoming a privately-held, indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Tencent, and Sogou’s ADSs would be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.

On July 31, 2020, the Sogou Board established a special committee of the Sogou Board, composed solely of independent directors, to consider the Proposal.

Sohu’s board of directors has not had an opportunity to review and evaluate the Proposal in detail, or to make a determination as to how to respond to the Proposal or as to whether or not the proposed acquisition of Sogou would be in the best interests of Sohu, in its capacity as Sogou’s controlling shareholder, and Sohu’s shareholders for Sohu to approve or reject the Proposal or a Proposed Transaction.

Business Outlook

For the third quarter of 2020, Sohu estimates:

Brand advertising revenues to be between US$37 million and US$42 million; this implies an annual decrease of 9% to 20% and a sequential decrease of 3% to a sequential increase of 11%.
Online game revenues to be between US$85 million and US$95 million; this implies an annual decrease of 12% to 21% and a sequential decrease of 10% to 20%.
Excluding the profit/loss generated by Sogou, non-GAAP net loss attributable to Sohu.com Limited to be between US$10 million and US$20 million; and GAAP net loss attributable to Sohu.com Limited to be between US$15 million and US$25 million.
For the third quarter 2020 guidance, the Company has adopted a presumed exchange rate of RMB7.00=US$1.00, as compared with the actual exchange rate of approximately RMB6.99=US$1.00 for the third quarter of 2019, and RMB7.08=US$1.00 for the second quarter of 2020.

This forecast reflects Sohu’s management’s current and preliminary view, which is subject to substantial uncertainty, particularly in view of the potential ongoing impact of the COVID-19 virus, which remains difficult to predict.

About Sohu.com

Sohu.com Limited (NASDAQ: SOHU) is China’s premier online brand and indispensable to the daily life of millions of Chinese, providing a network of web properties and community based/web 2.0 products which offer the vast Sohu user community a broad array of choices regarding information, entertainment and communication. Sohu has built one of the most comprehensive matrices of Chinese language web properties and proprietary search engines, consisting of the mass portal and leading online media destination www.sohu.com; interactive search engine www.sogou.com; developer and operator of online games www.changyou.com/en/ and online video website tv.sohu.com.

Sohu’s corporate services consist of online brand advertising on Sohu’s matrix of websites as well as bid listing and home page on its in-house developed search directory and engine. Sohu also provides multiple news and information services on mobile platforms, including Sohu News App and the mobile news portal m.sohu.com. Sohu’s online game subsidiary Changyou develops and operates a diverse portfolio of PC and mobile games, such as Tian Long Ba Bu (“TLBB”), one of the most popular PC games in China. Changyou also owns and operates the 17173.com Website, a game information portal in China. Sohu’s online search subsidiary Sogou (NYSE: SOGO) has grown to become the second largest search engine by mobile queries in China. It also owns and operates Sogou Input Method, the largest Chinese language input software. Sohu, established by Dr. Charles Zhang, one of China’s internet pioneers, is in its twenty-fourth year of operation.

SOURCE Sohu.com Ltd.

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