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Now, Momo Has A Triple Return Investing Opportunity


Buying Momo on current price, you got good chance to have more than 305% return in five years (25% annually ROI).

Although live streaming is a business with intense competition, in the visible future, live streaming business will supply a single digit growing perpetuity to Momo.

Benchmarking Momo to Match Group is wrong.

Momo dropped 22.4% from 31.69 (closing price on Dec 04) to 24.58 (closing price on Dec 11). The analyst normally does not believe that Momo's net income is not sustainable (may be inappropriate word choice). After the financial report, the high expense and low growth rate of live streaming become the other reasons for the pessimistic market perspective. I will identify Momo through the analyzing of live streaming and Tantan.



The live streaming is the most important business of Momo. Based on the latest 3 quarters financial reports, the revenue of live streaming is 81.16% of total revenue (1189.4m/1465.4m). The growth rate of Live streaming directly influences the growth rate of Momo. The growth of live streaming slowed down in this quarter and high possibility kept a single digit CAGR in the future. The revenue of Live Streaming is continuable.

Momo's live streaming is social live streaming. Momo monopolies this unique market of Live streaming and this market only profitable in the Chinese market. Different from video game live streaming, celebrity live streaming, and sports or show live streaming, social live streaming provides better percent revenue to the platform because the users do not follow the specific content or broadcaster. Most live broadcasters and content of social live streaming are UGCs, which means are zero cost (without operating cost). For the broadcaster who become famous, the platform of social live streaming has better bargaining power than the platform of other live streaming. 

In addition to having the long tail broadcasters, Momo's live streaming also has the long tail and impulsive user group. A Morgan Stanley's research describes the scenario and the users pretty well.

"What's new in this report: 1) Wecomparelivestreaming with Macau: We see fundamental similarities: 1)high revenue concentration in top users,2) rich cash positions, and 3) reliance on junkets/talent agencies. We also note differences: 1) capital intensity, and 2) Momo's solid VAS and Tantan businesses (growing +100% YoY). We refer to Macau's EV/EBITDA excluding gross PPE of 8-9x. Live streaming may trade lower in view of higher EPS uncertainty amid competition, lack of dividends,and shorter track record vs. >40 years for casinos globally,2) SOP yields US$30/share: We apply 7x EV/EBITDA for live streaming,2.5x P/GP for VAS (similar to iQiyi), and 5x P/S for Tantan (the same as for Match Group) on our 2020 estimate and discounted back by WACC of 14%."

However, I do not agree with the conclusion.

Opinion on bearish points 

1) Because of the function of Momo when users spend time on Momo's live streaming, they are seeking socializing with the high-level hormone. The social live streaming has more interactivity. The satisfaction of spiritual needs is an important reason users spend time and money on Momo's live streaming and Momo. In the last 30 years, China has a lot of rich people without good education. Based on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, they seek to Love and belonging needs and esteem needs which cannot satisfy by real society. However, as long as they reward the broadcaster and spend money on VAS, their vanities and needs are satisfied. This feeling is addictive. Especially in Chinese culture, people believe that being respected and admired is the most significant part of successful. More money they spend, more respect and privileges they have, and more addictive feeling they have. The vanity or honor is another important reason. Momo has a lot of competitions between the broadcasters. It is not about the broadcaster; instead, it is about the people behind the broadcaster. The impulsive spending during the competition is ridiculous, but it is human nature. Therefore, the impulsive spending on Momo has more dimensions than the impulsive spending on Macau casino. 

2) The spending on physiological needs and safety needs is limited, price sensitive, and rational. This kind of spending is cyclicality and influenced by the Macroeconomy. For example, I only need a certain amount of food to fill my stomach, and I do not want to spend $1000 just for fill my stomach. The spending on Love and belonging needs, esteem needs, and the need for self-actualization are unlimited, immeasurable with money, and impulsive. For example, I date with a girl in a Michelin star restaurant. I may spend more $1000 on a salad. The salad certainly does not value that much, but the good impression of the girl values. 

Most revenues of Momo come from the second type spending. Thus, the Macroeconomy recession does not influence the revenue of live streaming. 

Based on 1 and 2, more dimensions of impulsive spending, the special type spending of the users, and the Chinese culture are the critical reason that the revenue of Momo live streaming will consistently slowly increase. Moreover, the slowly increasing does not need the extra input, since the live streaming has already formed the ecosystem. Which means that Momo live streaming will consistently generate at least 320m (80% of total net income (420m) ) free cash flow.

Another bearish point is that DouYin and Volcano (huoshan) live has the advantage to take Momo's market share and increases the intensity of live streaming market. Broadcasters have more choices and better bargain power which will reduce Momo's gross profit margin and revenue. It is wrong.

  1. The content of DouYin's live streaming is similar to Momo's and Volcano's. However, the users of Momo have most loyalty and are more impulsive to spend money.
    1. In normal live streaming, the users or audience do not care other audience; like the audience in the theater, the users of normal live streaming watch and leave. However, the users of Momo's social live streaming enjoy the environment more, especially for the "rich guys". Most Broadcasters have their own profile and publish their daily life(similar to the Instagram)
    2. The self-generated traffic and long tail broadcaster group give MOMO cost advantage and superior gross profit margin.
    3. The most threatening of Momo was Inke.
    4. Momo live streaming apply to the social networking site law which more people use, the more valuable platform is, and then furthermore people use.
    5. Momo is working with agencies to produce high quality broadcasters, which can drive another growth.  

Evaluation model of Momo's Live streaming

I disagree Morgan Stanly claimed,

"Live streaming may not trade above 8-9x EV/EBITDA in the long term: ......We reference the EV/EBITDA excluding gross PPE (because live streaming business has no material assets) of four Macau companies (Wynn, Galaxy, MGM, and Sands) at 8-9x as shown in Exhibit 7, based on historical PPE (2017) and net debt (CASH) (1H18)."

There is no benchmarking to Momo's unique social live streaming. I use the reciprocal of twice of interest of long-term nation bonds as the PE, which is 1/ (3%*2). Momo's live streaming should be around 15-18pe in long term. The market will aware in the future, Momo's live streaming is a consistent cash machine which equals to a developed Dow Jones Industrial company with consistent slowly CAGR of net income. 

Why long Momo's live streaming

  1. The live streaming is an emerging industry. In the future, with the popularization of portable smart device (VR, AR, smartwatch, smart glass, IOT) and the growth of the mobile internet generation (in the aspect of both ages and amount of numbers), Live streaming will become the daily habit for a big portion of the world population. Like watching TV shows and going to movie theaters, watch live streaming will be usual and frequent. The live streaming broadcasters will be popular and common jobs or part-time jobs (this because of the trend of over-Amusing, I will write another article talking about it). 
  2. Momo is one of a few platforms genetically can do the socially live streaming (FB is another one) which most efficiently generate cash flow with the moat. 


I believe that Tantan is not a good business. However, Momo has to buy Tantan because if Momo wants to build an online social entertainment kingdom and monopoly the market, the best way is to build app-matrix (similar to Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Messager). Tantan discovery and monopoly one niche market in Momo's market, so Momo has to buy it. 

The female user has great user experience in Tantan. There is a positive cycle, which more female users cause more male users. The way Tantan to monetize is similar to tinder, which means there is a celling for its revenue. Tantan has weak viscosity of users and cyclical using time for most individuals. Users may quit the app due to having the relationship or feel boring. The new dating app also enters the market with the different angle, such as Soul. The short videos, the mobile games, and other entertainments set a ceiling to Tantan. I believe Tantan high percent monopoly the direct dating business but hard to break the ceiling. The gift center and advertisement may largely improve the ARPU. Based on information from bbs, Tantan has closely 24m (dollar) revenue in Q3. Since there are not a lot of information, it is hard to calculate the CAGR of ARPU and the revenue of Tantan. 

Tantan's DAU will touch the ceiling soon. In order to improve the total revenue, Tantan needs to adding more privilege to paying users, which may hurt the DAU.

By the way, I did not count the user from the developing area of China. Those users generate the incremental market for Pingduoduo (25b), ByteDance (75b), Kuaishou (21b). However, those users may not generate value to the dating app. 

VAS of Momo

The Momo app is a mature version of Tantan adding a social game center. The current business of the Momo app will not have unexpected growth. Therefore, I add the VAS of Momo and Tantan together.


The net income of Momo for 2018 financial year should be close to 420m with a weak Q4 (0% increase QoQ). The live streaming is given 15-18 pe. The VAS is benchmarking Match group. In 2018, Q1-Q3, there is 97% revenue of Match group from VAS (direct revenue) (1231.9/1272.5). Based on Zacks, The Match group is given 35 TTM pe currently. The lowest TTM pe of Match group was around 20 in 2016. I guess the low pe is because of the bearish prediction of growth (welcome feed me some history). Thus, The VAS business is given TTM 20-30pe.

Live streaming

In the next five year, the live streaming business's revenue will have 10% - 20% CAGR.

Revenue (million usd) YoY QoQ MAU (M) QoQ of MAU paying users (M) QoQ Paying users rate ARPPU QoQ
18Q3 407 34% -1% 110.5 2.3%
18Q2 411 58% 10% 108.0 4.5% 4.6 4.5% 4.3% 89.3 4.8%
18Q1 375 76% 14% 103.3 4.2% 4.4 2.3% 4.3% 85.25 11.8%
17Q4 328 68% 8% 99.1 5.0% 4.3 4.9% 4.3% 76.28 3.4%
17Q3 303 179% 17% 94.4 3.4% 4.1 0.0% 4.3% 73.80 16.7%
17Q2 259 348% 22% 91.3 7.2% 4.1 0.0% 4.5% 63.27 22.0%
17Q1 213 1265% 9% 85.2 5.1% 4.1 17.1% 4.8% 51.85 -6.9%
16Q4 195 81.1 4.8% 3.5 34.6% 4.3% 55.67 33.3%
16Q3 109 77.4 3.5% 2.6 100.0% 3.4% 41.77 -6.2%
16Q2 58 74.8 3.5% 1.3 1.7% 44.55
16Q1 16 72.3

The revenue of Live streaming business of Momo should be 2.45b - 3.79b.

Since the company did not disclose the gross profit margin of the live streaming business. I make a rough calculation. All six quarters through 17Q1 to 18Q2, 80% total revenue of company come from the Live streaming business. During 17Q1 to 18Q2, the gross profit margins are around 45%-55%. Other 20% revenue, included VAS and advertising, have a higher gross profit margin. YY's live streaming business has around 35% to 40%. Since social live streaming is more efficiently, the gross profit margin of Momo's live streaming business should around 40% to 45% currently. However, the growth of revenue mostly is driven by the agency of broadcasters in the next few years, so the gross profit margin should decrease to the same level as YY (the platform already full work with agencies), around 35%-40%. Therefore, in 2023, the gross profit of the live streaming business is 857.4m - 1513m.

VAS, adv, game, and other services

I tried to calculate the valuation of Tantan as a secondary market object, but I cannot. Tantan will generate a lot of revenue in the future, but any precise calculation is the lie because there is too much variable unknown.

So, I use the VC way to evaluate Tantan. I chose to give a safe or attainable revenue prediction, at least 800m just for Tantan. The VAS of Momo app is considered as safe margin, so it is calculated as 0. 800m is the tinder's revenue in 2018. Because of the culture of Chinese (introverted and non-sociable), Tantan has bigger potential market than that of tinder. 5 years is long enough to release the potential revenue to revenue or Tantan failed.

2018Q3 VAS (direct revenue) Paying ARPPU
Match group (NA) 234m 4.28m 54 USD
Momo, Tantan 84m 9.00m 9.33 USD

This graph displays the potential of Tantan. Currently, the sum of the price of all the privileges is less than 100RMB (15 USD) per month. The price of privileges of Tinder is close to 30 USD per month. (Careful: the data is not Tinder but MTCH and is not only Tantan but Tantan plus Momo)

  1. The gift system, One gift can be more than 100 RMB. The gift system and super unfair privilege give the rich people the opportunity to attract others. Thus, not only handsome and interesting one is popular, the person who ugly and boring also can attract others by money. It not only increases more high-valued user but also generates another dimension of dating.
  2. The growth VAS due to the growth of paying user.
  3. The Ad.

Based on the VAS business (97% total revenue) of Match group, the VAS business has around 75% to 85% gross margin. The least gross profit of VAS is 600m.

Based on the financial report of Momo before 2016Q3 (Momo did not start live streaming yet), the gross profit margin is around 60%. The worse situation is mobile marketing, mobile games, and other services have zero increase, which is impossible, and the revenue of 2023 will be 128m (2018 Q1-Q3 + 2017 Q4). The gross profit is 76.8m.

I open the position

The least total gross profit is 76.8m+600m+857.4m=1534.2m. Considering Momo as a value stock with consistent cash flow yearly, I use the reciprocal of twice of interest of long-term nation bonds as the PE, which is 1/ (3%*2) - 1/(2%*2). Momo should be around 15-25 pe in long term. The ratio of net income to gross profit is around 50%, so the least net income of Momo is 767.1m. The least valuation of Momo is around 11.5b to 19.1b, and the dividend behavior and bull market may cause higher the PE. Based on the closing price of Dec 13, the market cap of Momo is 5.26b. Buying Momo now, next five years, the compound annual return of investing(CAROI) is 16.95% - 29.5%. Since I use the least number of most variable, the deal has the safety margin.


Momo's intrinsic value cannot be accurately calculated because there are too many undetermined variables, but through the logical deduction bolstering by conservative calculation, the conclusion is proved to be correct.


  1. The policy risk. Momo is the target of government because of its bad rep. If Momo does not regulate well, some broadcaster may cause the trouble. The policy risk is fatal short-term for the company financially. However, it will not hurt the company long term.
  2. Tantan cannot monopoly the stranger social market. The emerging apps may split users time. Since users only give certain time to stranger social, Tantan's growth rate may slow down.
  3. When I analyze Momo financially, I will leave close 500m for the buyout. (similar situation as Tantan)

Disclosure: I am/we are long MOMO.