Tencent Holdings blasted past Facebook to become the world’s most valuable social media network operator by market capitalisation on Tuesday. It now also ranks as the seventh largest company globally.
The Chinese online games and WeChat giant soared 4.5 per cent to HK$543.50, taking its market capitalisation to just under HK$5.2 trillion (US$670 billion), compared to the American rival’s market value of US$657.8 billion.
Tencent has rallied about 45 per cent this year in Hong Kong, adding HK$1.6 trillion in value to investors. Facebook gained about 14 per cent in New York during the same time.
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Just over two weeks ago, Alibaba, the e-commerce behemoth and owner of the South China Morning Post, ousted Facebook as the world’s sixth most valuable company. Alibaba’s market capitalisation is about US$677.4 billion.
American technology and internet companies have long been the world’s leaders. China’s growing innovation and clout in everything from digital payments and 5G development to online games and e-commerce are part of the raft of tensions rising between Washington and Beijing. It may have prompted Tencent into making an offer to privatise its search engine unit Sogou from the US market.
“With rising China GDP growth, we will see more and more Chinese companies entering the top 10 or top 100 companies,” said Kenny Wen, wealth management strategist at Everbright Sun Hung Kai. “This long-term trend will continue in the foreseeable future. However, the pandemic and worsening China-US relationship may make the situation complicated.”
Tencent’s ecosystem is stuffed with games, social networking, mobile payments, music and videos, as well as the cloud. Its WeChat social media, messaging and mobile payments app has more than 1 billion monthly active users. The stock has clawed its way back from a disastrous 2018, when it faced a nine-month freeze on game approvals.
“You can barely get through a day without touching one of Tencent’s applications,” Vey-Sern Ling, senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said in an interview with the Post earlier this year.
Tencent has 52 “buy” ratings, four holds, and no sells.
The stock may rise to HK$651 over the coming 12 months, says Jefferies analyst Thomas Chong, who has the highest target price on the stock among analysts tracked by Bloomberg. It is also known for its hugely popular games, including Honour of Kings and Peacekeeper Elite. Chong calls Tencent a “global mobile games powerhouse”.
“Tencent looks well positioned to capture overseas expansion opportunities riding on solid execution in different game genres and operating over 480 mobile games,” he wrote last week as he boosted Tencent’s target price from HK$592 the month before.
Tencent has offered to pay US$9 each for the shares of search engine operator Sogou that it does not already own. The price represents a 57 per cent premium to its closing level in New York on Friday. The company’s American depositary shares closed up 48 per cent at US$8.51 on Monday, valuing it at US$3.3 billion.
Elsewhere in the market on Tuesday, Taiwanese chip maker TSMC surpassed Visa as the world’s 10th-largest stock by market value.
Saudi Arabian Oil, better known as Aramco, is the world’s most valuable company, with a market capitalisation of US$1.75 trillion, followed by Apple, the iPhone maker, at US$1.61 trillion.
Tencent founder Pony Ma Huateng is China’s richest person and the world’s 20th wealthiest, with a fortune worth US$52.2 billion, according to Bloomberg billionaire rankings. He is followed by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who is the world’s 21st wealthiest person, at US$50.5 billion.
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More from South China Morning Post:
- Tencent offers to take Chinese search engine Sogou private as US-China relations worsen
- A new Covid-19 AI tool from Tencent could tell doctors if patients are likely to become severely ill
- Hang Seng Tech Index to shine light on smaller firms that juice fund returns in the shadows of Alibaba, Tencent