Tencent steps up share repurchase efforts after recent market rout in first buy-back since 2014

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2018, 12:56pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2018, 2:53pm

Tencent Holdings bought back shares for a second day on Monday after its first repurchase in four years spurred speculation the battered internet behemoth may do more to support the stock.

The Shenzhen-based company said it bought 124,000 shares for HK$39.1 million (US$5 million) on September 10, more than five times the amount it spent on Friday. The previous time Tencent bought stock was in April 2014, when it spent HK$77 million buying shares and spurred a three-day rally.

By starting with a small repurchase, Tencent could be testing market reaction before considering more, said Shawn Yang, an executive director of Blue Lotus Capital Advisors, who covers the social networking giant. The stock fell as much as 1.5 per cent on Tuesday and has lost 35 per cent from its record high in January.

“This is just the beginning – we may see more buy-backs from Tencent,” Yang said on Monday before Tencent announced its second round of purchases. “Buy-backs can minimise the downside impact but they’re not enough to immediately trigger a rebound in the stock price. We may continue to see more pressure for Tencent in the short term, but it’s good timing to buy back because it sends a message to the market that ‘look, we are not as bad as you think. ”’

China’s games industry at a turning point amid regulatory crackdown, with Korea offering a vision of its future

The rout in Tencent stock has wiped more than US$190 billion from its market value amid a global tech sell-off and concerns about earnings in its lucrative games business amid a Chinese regulatory clampdown. It’s still one of the highest rated stocks with an average price target implying a 44 per cent upside from Monday’s close.

Tencent buyers tend to be long-only investors who would prefer to wait until they get more clarity before jumping back in, Yang said.

“The market has been too over-concerned about short-term things like regulation and gaming slowdown,” said Yang. “What Tencent is trying to say is ‘you underestimate our future potential.”’