Investors Yawn On China Tech Super Thursday

by: Doug Young

The busiest day of the second-quarter earnings season has just come and gone, with online gaming leaders Tencent (OTCPK:TCEHY) and NetEase (NASDAQ:NTES), top telco China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), leading PC maker Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY) and e-commerce high-flyer Vipshop (NYSE:VIPS) all reporting results in the same 24-hour period. I'll give quick reviews of individual companies shortly, but the bigger picture based on stock reactions seems to be a massive yawn from investors. Most of the stocks were either unchanged or moved slightly downward in response to the earnings reports, meaning most results continued recent company trends.

The lackluster response also hints at some investor fatigue, following a wave of euphoria during a flood of new Internet IPOs in New York in the first half of this year. All that said, let's take a quick look at each of the reports and what they say about current and future trends.

- China Mobile. The company reported its quarterly profit fell by a sizable 7.8 percent, marking its fourth straight quarterly decline. (English article) The size of the company's profit declines continues to grow, which isn't too unexpected due to its heavy spending on 4G and sluggish subscriber growth. China Mobile's stock rose 1.3 percent after the report came out, and I would actually expect some upside ahead as the company starts to show signs of becoming a bit more innovative and builds up its 4G business.

- Lenovo. The company reported a 23 percent profit rise for the 3 months through June, its fiscal first quarter, as it gained share in the difficult PC market and also saw a big jump in its cellphone business. (English article) Lenovo also said it still hopes to close its purchases of Motorola Mobility and IBM's (NYSE: IBM) low-end server business by year-end despite political headwinds. The stock dropped 1.4 percent after the news, and is probably due for longer-term stagnation as the company fights a difficult price war in the large but highly competitive Chinese smartphone market.

- Tencent. The company's profit soared nearly 60 percent, as revenue from its core online game business jumped 46 percent and overall revenue rose a healthy 37 percent. (English article) But Tencent also predicted slower growth in the current quarter, which may have been part of the reason for a 2.3 percent slump in its share price. Frankly speaking, the company's price-to-earnings ratio looks a bit inflated at 39 based on this year's earnings, and I think investors are burning out on all the hype about Tencent's wildly popular WeChat mobile instant messaging service.

- NetEase. The company's quarterly profit rose an anemic 9 percent, as revenue from its core online gaming business grew by an equally anemic 13 percent. (company announcement) Better performance for its online ad services helped it to post a 22 percent gain in total revenues. The stock was largely unchanged in after-hours trade after the results came out, indicating investors weren't too excited by what they saw. Tough competition in the games business could put downward pressure on the stock in the months ahead, especially if investors start to more broadly lose interest in Chinese Internet companies after the recent rally.

- Vipshop. Net income nearly tripled, as revenues grew by a slower but still quite healthy 136 percent. (company announcement) At those kinds of growth rates, the company, which has carved out a place as a discount e-commerce specialist, could soon close the gap on some of the larger players in the fast growing sector. But Vipshop forecast revenue growth would slow to 123 percent in the current quarter, which may have helped to spark the 4 percent drop in after-hours trade after the results came out. Look for more pressure during the rest of this year on the stock, which already trades at a highly inflated price-to-earnings ratio of 86.

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