Games and Advertising Lift Tencent to Record First Quarter Profit

Tencent growth WeChat

Tencent Holdings smashed first-quarter expectations with a 61% profit increase driven by its mobile gaming and advertising services, the South China Morning Post reports this morning. "Smartphone games revenues alone were up 68 percent year-on-year to 21.7 billion yuan, thanks to titles such as 'Honour of Kings'". The company secured the rights to distribute both "battle royale" games in China and beyond and said it is just beginning to monetize them.

Tencent had warned in March that heavy spending could crimp profit, sending shares sharply lower.

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Fortnite, though unavailable in China yet, has gone viral in USA and Europe and ranked as the top-grossing game globally in March, according to Superdata.

Despite criticism that Tencent has lost its innovation ability and has become more like an investor, the company has proved that its investing activities actually go hand in hand with the development of its core business. Asia's largest company by market capitalization, Tencent reported $14 billion debt at the end of March, compared with $16 billion of cash at the same time a year ago. That helped drive a 55% local currency gain in advertising revenue to 10.69 billion yuan. While WeChat has just passed the billion-user mark and is trailing the world's largest social network by more than a billion users, the company's financial results are almost on par with Facebook's.

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Monthly active user accounts (MAU) declined to 805.5 million, down 6.4 percent from the year before and from 783 million in the previous quarter.

In the video content sector, Tencent poured a total of $1.1 billion into two rivals in a 24-hour period, investing US$632 million and US$461.6 million respectively in Chinese game-streaming platforms Douyu and Huya in March. Epic is a company in which Tencent has a large stake. Naspers Ltd., which as Tencent's top shareholder is often regarded as a proxy for the Chinese firm, rose more than 6 percent Wednesday.

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Tencent's other retail partners include Carrefour, Walmart, Yonghui Superstores, Vipshop Holdings, Bubugao and JD.com, who are looking to leverage the internet giant's capabilities in mobile payments, customer acquisition and cloud services.

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