Wed, Nov 11, 2015 - Page 14 News List

Tencent profit hits record as games, video attract users

POPULAR CONTENT:The Chinese company has the streaming rights for the NBA, as well as Sony Music Entertainment songs and Time Warner’s HBO network

Bloomberg

Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊) posted record third-quarter profits as the Chinese Internet company withstood a slowing domestic economy through the popularity of online games and streaming HBO shows.

Net income climbed 32 percent to 7.45 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) in the three months ending September, the Shenzhen-based company said yesterday.

Sales rose 34 percent to 26.6 billion yuan, compared with analysts’ estimates for 25.4 billion yuan.

Developing the WeChat and QQ messaging platforms beyond their roots into games and a social network boosted revenue growth and helped founder Ma Huateng (馬化騰) reach more than 1 billion users with content that includes National Basketball Association (NBA) games.

That is fueling a push to add new services, show more content such as James Bond movies, and expand into finance as Tencent battles Alibaba Group (阿里巴巴集團) and Baidu Inc (百度) for China’s 668 million Web users.

“The company is ready to deliver much stronger revenue growth,” said Li Muzhi, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Arete Research Service LLP.

“Advertising services will appeal to more than 600 million users for Tencent, and as they become more sophisticated with WeChat and QQ.” Li added.

WeChat had 650 million monthly active users and the mobile version of QQ had 639 million users at the end of the quarter.

Adding online payments and making e-commerce transactions easier are part of Ma’s efforts to make money from the world’s biggest collection of mobile messaging services.

The cost of revenue surged 54 percent to 11 billion yuan as Tencent incurred “significant” bank handling fees for money transfers it offers to consumers for free.

Tencent shares yesterday fell 1.1 percent to HK$150.40 in Hong Kong before the earnings were announced. The stock has gained 34 percent this year, compared with a 22 percent drop for New York-listed Alibaba.

Revenue from the value added services unit, which includes online games and messaging, jumped 28 percent to 20.5 billion yuan.

Tencent’s gaming lineup includes Journey to the Fairyland in 3D and Dungeon & Fighter.

Marketing and sales expenses rose 7 percent to 2.04 billion yuan.

“Mobile game performances were pretty strong,” Jeff Hao, a Hong Kong-based analyst at China Merchants Securities Holdings, said before the earnings. “The company introduced some popular titles in the third quarter.”

Online advertising revenue doubled to 4.9 billion yuan on demand for video content.

Tencent pays for the rights to online streaming in China and generates revenue from ads. That business model is used because subscription TV is not as widespread in China as it is in the US and Europe.

Tencent’s content deals include streaming rights for NBA games, Sony Music Entertainment songs and Time Warner Inc’s HBO network. Last week, the company added the exclusive online rights in China for the complete Bond franchise.

After struggling to compete with Alibaba in e-commerce, Tencent folded its online retail assets into a venture with JD.com Inc to create a stronger second-ranked operator.

While Tencent and Alibaba still compete head-to-head in their respective strongholds of messages and e-commerce, the companies are cooperating more in new services.

So far this year, they have merged their taxi-hailing apps Didi and Kuaidi, and their group-buying sites Meituan.com and Dianping.com.

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