The soccer World Cup boosted online advertising revenue for mainland portal Sohu.com, giving it positive earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation two quarters ahead of schedule. The Nasdaq-listed firm reported second-quarter revenues of US$6.13 million, 35 per cent up on the first quarter's US$4.53 million. Its second-quarter net loss was US$870,000, down from US$2.2 million in the first quarter. China's participation in the World Cup soccer finals for the first time last month helped boost advertising revenues and growth in fee-based downloads and messaging services for handsets. Chief operating officer Victor Koo said Sohu generated more than 15 million messages from the World Cup as soccer fans downloaded World Cup-related logos and subscribed to goal alerts. For the quarter to June, Sohu's advertising revenues were up 34 per cent at US$3.36 million from US$2.51 million. About 81 per cent of the advertising revenue was from domestic firms, including technology vendor TCL, beverage company Ye Shu, electronics manufacturer Amoisonic and financial institutions such as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Fujian Development Bank. International advertising clients include Procter & Gamble, Volkswagen andIntel. Advertising revenues contributed about 55 per cent of the total income. ''We have a balanced business model,'' Mr Koo said. ''We have been focusing on corporate clients and also consumer services. We have a very strong domestic advertising base ... since 2001, we have been diversifying our revenue on the consumer service side - mobile messaging as well as e-commerce. ''Relying on online advertising alone is not sufficient although we see that online advertising is still a growth market. But on the consumer side, we see higher growth.'' News, games and jokes for mobile phones as well as downloadable ring tones and screen designs are a fast-growing business for Sohu and its main rivals Sina.com and NetEase.com. Mr Koo said Sohu's short message service content had been made available recently to pre-paid users of China Mobile Communications, the country's dominant cellular firm, and that was likely to fuel revenue growth in coming quarters. Sohu launched its Internet service provider Sohu Online this week. It offers subscribers a personalised browser, free of advertisements and with faster Internet access. The portal also expects revenue to be driven from Sohustock.com, an online securities trading services to be launched this quarter. Sohu teamed up with Guolian Securities in April to offer online securities trading services, a first for a mainlaind portal. Chief financial officer Derek Palaschuk said: ''We expect total revenues for the third quarter to be US$6.7 million, with advertising revenues maintained at the level of US$3.3 million and non-advertising revenues of US$3.4 million. ''Our [second-quarter] financial results prove that we're on our way to profitability in 2003 via intelligent spending and strong revenue growth.''