Tencent becomes first Asian company to be valued over US$500 billion

Tencent becomes first Asian company to be valued over US$500 billion
PHOTO: Reuters

Tencent shares hit a record high Monday, bringing its valuation to over $500 billion (S$678 billion).

The technology firm is the first from China to reach the landmark valuation as it closes in on the likes of Facebook and Amazon.

The Hong Kong-listed internet giant, known for its WeChat messaging app and online games, saw shares rally to 420 Hong Kong dollars ($53.76) on Monday. Its market capitalisation, or total value of all the shares in circulation, stood at 3.99 trillion Hong Kong dollars ($510.7 billion) at the market close.

Tencent's market cap is above Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which stands at $474.15 billion, and Baidu at $82.97 billion.

It is closing in on US technology firms including Facebook, which is worth $520.14 billion, and Amazon, which is valued at $544.46 billion.

Tencent went public in Hong Kong in 2004 at 3.70 Hong Kong dollars per share. Since then, it has rallied 11,251 per cent. Tencent's stock this year alone is up 121.4 per cent.

The share price has been driven by Tencent's continued revenue growth, massive user base and investments into new areas. Last week, the Chinese company reported a 67 per cent year-on-year rise in net profit for the third quarter, beating market expectations.

Tencent is a sprawling business. One of its key products is China's most popular messaging service, WeChat, which is now approaching 1 billion users.

Online and mobile games are a key part of the business - the division brought in over $4 billion of revenues last quarter. Last year, Tencent acquired a majority stake in Finnish smartphone maker Supercell, the company behind the popular "Clash of Clans" mobile game.

Other fast-growing parts of the business include digital content such as video, as well as online advertising.

While Tencent may not be a household name in the US, it's continuing to push into new areas, including making big investments in America. It has acquired stakes in both Tesla and Snap, and invested in numerous start-ups in Asia including India's Uber rival Ola.

Analysts have a positive view on Tencent. Barclays raised its price target from $49 to $59 on Monday. Last week, Daiwa Capital Markets raised its price target to 480 Hong Kong dollars. In a note, analyst John Choi said that he still sees earnings upside in 2018 driven by a "robust" mobile game pipeline and increasing online advertising monetisation.

"Tencent's disciplined execution and well-positioned multi-engine growth strategy should sustain its valuation premium in the medium to long-term," Daiwa said in a note on November 15.

This article was first published on CNBC.

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