NQ Mobile crashes as Muddy Waters calls company a "massive fraud'

|By:, SA News Editor

Muddy Waters has started coverage on NQ Mobile (NQ -30%) with a Strong Sell; the firm's target price is below $1. (report - .pdf)

MW claims at least 72% of NQ's 2012 Chinese security software revenue ($32.2M) is "fraudulent," and that much of it ($20.2M) came from a shell company called Yidatong. The firm says an investigation found Yidatong's offices were "either non-existent or completely empty."

MW also declares NQ's third-party payments channel to be "non-existent," and its Chinese payments portal to be "purely cosmetic." It estimates (citing survey data) NQ has only a 1.4% share of the Chinese security app market rather than a stated 55%, and that Qihoo (QIHU -0.5%) dominates the space with a 73.5% share. Also, MW's store checks indicated few phones had NQ's software pre-installed, and that its prepaid card sales were limited.

Meanwhile, NQ's apps are declared to be "spyware," and its global app revenue below $1M/year. The company's acquisitions are deemed "highly likely to be corrupt," with ghost addresses uncovered for some of them, and its cash balances "highly likely to not exist."

Update (2:01PM ET): The selloff has worsened. NQ now -51.8%.