Tencent reported a weak quarter, as expected. Revenue missed the consensus, and the adjusted net income fell 25% Y/Y, continuing the downward trend since Q3. The core businesses, such as domestic games and online ads, were still under pressure. Going forward, the near-term headwinds persist, but the long-term drivers are intact. Weak macro weighs online ads, and management cautiously guided ads to pick up only in late 2022. The gaming license renewal is pending, and one or two quarters are needed to lapse the regulatory impact. However, the growth drivers, like fintech, cloud, and international gaming, keep delivering. It doesn't make much sense to be overly pessimistic about Tencent's future growth. In our opinion, the adverse stock reaction was more for the lack of buyback plans than the weak results. Investors hoped that Tencent would ramp up the buyback program like Alibaba but were only disappointed. We can sense that investors are increasingly going after shareholder returns instead of growth, as questions about divestitures, potential company break-ups, and cost controls took up a big chunk of the Q&A session. The earnings call sounded more like one of a traditional retailer or energy company. Management gave investors positive responses regarding "quality growth" and "refocusing on the core." It's a good strategy, and investors should be patient.
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