Event: Zhihu Inc. (02390.HK) released his first quarterly earnings report for 2022 on May 25, 2022 (Beijing time).
Revenue grew by more than 50% year-on-year, with losses widening, better than Bloomberg had expected. The overall performance of Q1 company in 2022 exceeded market expectations, including 1) earnings performance: 22Q1 Zhihu Inc. achieved operating income of 743 million yuan, an increase of 55.4% over the same period last year, while Bloomberg unanimously expected 722 million yuan, exceeding expectations by 2.9%. The company's gross profit was 336 million yuan, an increase of 23.1% over the same period last year, and the gross profit margin reached 45.1%. Non-GAAP 's homing profit was-367 million yuan, a year-on-year loss of 89.8%, but better than Bloomberg's consensus estimate of-384 million yuan, exceeding expectations by 4.3%. 2) cost structure: the decline in gross profit and net profit is mainly due to the large increase in operating costs and expenses. Among them, the operating cost reached 408 million yuan, an increase of 98.3% over the same period last year, mainly due to the increase in advertising execution costs and content-related costs brought about by supporting business growth. The operating expenses of 22Q1 also increased by 59.9% compared with the same period last year, of which the management expenses increased by 91.5%, mainly due to the increase in equity incentive fees and the one-time charges of listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In the context of the company's expansion of technical infrastructure and R & D personnel investment, 22Q1 R & D expenditure reached 167 million yuan, an increase of 56.6% over the same period last year. Therefore, reducing cost and increasing efficiency will be one of the core goals of the company in the next 1-2 years.
Under the "ecology first" strategy, create high-quality content to stimulate the high-quality growth of users. 22Q1 Zhihu Inc. MAU reached 101.6 million, an increase of 19.4% over the same period last year. The number of monthly payment members reached 6.9 million, an increase of 72.8% over the same period, and users' willingness to pay was further enhanced. Behind the user growth reflects the "ecology first" strategy put forward by the company in 2022, that is, the company pays more attention to and optimizes the four major issues of creator experience, content acquisition, community atmosphere and commercial growth. User growth has the original high-speed expansion transformation of high-quality growth. The high-quality transformation of content is mainly reflected in three aspects. First of all, from the creator's side, on May 18, Zhihu Inc. released "Sea Salt Plan 4.0" to increase support for high-quality creators and stimulate creators' creative vitality with the updated creative sub-system and income system. As of 22Q1, the daily creation volume of high-ranking creators has increased by more than 125% compared with the same period last year. Secondly, in the content media, the multi-media content form covers the timely differences in the content needs of different users, helping users to continue to grow. Among them, the consumption of video content is developing actively, and 45% of the daily active users of 22Q1 have consumed video content. Finally, in terms of content, the growth of creative content in vertical areas such as campus life, education, and Internet science better meets the personalized needs of the 18-36-year-old main user group, in order to improve the user retention rate.
There are rich ways to realize the commercialization of content, and the commercial solution has become the largest growth engine. Zhihu Inc. 's current content commercialization income is mainly divided into five categories: 1) 2B advertising revenue: 22Q1 revenue is 217 million yuan, an increase of 1.7% over the same period last year, accounting for 29.2% of the total revenue. Despite the weak macro advertising demand under the epidemic, 22Q1 Zhihu Inc. 's advertising revenue still achieved 1.7% positive year-on-year growth, which means that the company's advertising revenue is still actively driven, of which IT and 3C brand advertising performance is the most outstanding, both achieved more than double year-on-year growth, while fast consumer and e-commerce advertising also maintained a double-digit growth trend. 2) payment income of 2C members: the payment income of 22Q1 members is 222 million yuan, an increase of 75.1% over the same period last year, accounting for 29.8% of the total income. Members' paid-end business still maintains a good growth rate driven by high-quality content, and the monthly renewal rate remains at 65%. 3) 2B-end content service solution revenue: 22Q1 content service solution revenue is 227 million yuan, an increase of 87.7% over the same period last year, accounting for 30.5% of the total revenue. This is the first time since the content service solutions business was proposed in 2020 that the business has surpassed the advertising business to become the company's first type of revenue. The model of providing commercial marketing solutions for merchants and brand creators in their responses has brought about the growth of the customer base and additional expenses for customers. 4) other business income: the revenue of Q1 content service solution in 22 years was 77 million yuan, an increase of 351.9% over the same period last year, accounting for 10.4% of the total revenue. In 2022, Q1 listed vocational training income separately from other businesses for the first time. According to the financial report, Q1 vocational education income in 22 years was 39 million yuan, an increase of nearly 12 times over the same period last year, accounting for 5.3% of the total income.
Investment advice: taking into account the impact of the macro epidemic since March 2022, the company's Q1 performance in 2022 showed good risk resilience, and the overall performance was better than Bloomberg consensus expectations. The "Ecology first" strategy proposed in 2022 and the "Sea Salt Plan 4.0" put forward on May 18 have made positive contributions to the development of high-quality content and the growth of high-quality users, while the innovative 2B-end business realization model "content Service solution" proposed in 2020 has become the largest engine of revenue growth through rapid growth. As of the close on May 26, Bloomberg unanimously expected revenue of 44.28 yuan for 22-24, an increase of 49.64%, 47.14% and 38.42% over the same period last year. The adjusted net profit is RMB-13.06 million, up 12.43% over the same period last year, 29.40% and 73.83%. It is recommended to pay close attention to it.
Risk factors: under the pressure of macroeconomic and industry competition, short-term losses expand; user growth slows; user activity and stickiness decline; regulatory risks such as advertising, content and data security.