Tencent Holdings (NASDAQOTH:TCEHY) announced third-quarter 2017 results on Nov. 15, demolishing the market's expectations with the help of strong growth from both its advertising business and its various internet value-added services (VAS).

Let's take a closer look at what the Chinese social-media and gaming leader achieved in its latest quarter, as well as what investors can expect from the company in the months ahead.

Young woman using a smartphone

Image source: Getty Images.

Tencent results: The raw numbers


Q3 2017

Q3 2016

Year-Over-Year Growth


$9.825 billion

$6.087 billion


Net profit attributable to Tencent shareholders

$2.719 billion

$1.604 billion


Earnings per diluted share




Data source: Tencent Holdings. 

What happened with Tencent this quarter?

  • On an adjusted (non-GAAP) basis, which excludes non-cash items and acquisition expenses, Tencent's profit attributable to shareholders increased 47% year over year to $2.572 billion, or $0.27 per diluted share. 
  • These results easily outpaced investors' expectations for a profit of $2.29 billion on lower revenue of $9.16 billion.
  • Registered subscriptions for fee-based value added services grew 19.3% year over year to 125 million.
  • VAS revenue climbed 51% to $6.35 billion, including:
    • 48% growth in online games revenue to $4.05 billion, driven by smartphone games and PC client games.
    • 56% growth in social-networks revenue to $2.30 billion, driven by digital content services such as live broadcast, subscription video on-demand, and virtual item sales.
  • Online advertising revenue climbed 48% to $1.66 billion, including:
    • 29% growth in media advertising revenue to $621 million, driven by mobile media platforms such as Tencent Video, which now has over 43 million paying subscribers.
    • 63% growth in "social and others" ad revenue to $1.04 billion, primarily from Weixin and other mobile apps.
  • Other business revenue rose 143% to $1.82 billion, driven by cloud and payment services.
  • QQ monthly active users (MAUs) fell 3.8% year over year to 843 million.
  • Combined MAUs of Weixin and WeChat climbed 15.8% year over year to 980 million.
  • Qzone MAUs fell 10% to 568 million.
  • Free cash flow came in at $4.14 billion, up 94% year over year.

What management had to say

Tencent Chairman and CEO Ma Huateng lauded strong growth across the company's games, digital, content, online advertising, and payment services segments:

In particular, our video platform gained audience and revenue market share, we believe it has become China's top online video platform in terms of mobile daily active users and subscriptions. We believe this success reflects our increasing investment in self-commissioned video content, our improved selection of licensed video content, and our scheduling and audience management initiatives. The listing of our online literature platform, China Literature, in November also reflects the value of our years of investment in the business. We believe our multifaceted digital content businesses are synergistic with each other and allow us to deliver unique content to our users.

Looking forward

Tencent doesn't provide specific financial guidance each quarter. But there's no denying that this was a stellar showing from the burgeoning Chinese tech giant, with broad-based growth across its various businesses. So while Wednesday's modest decline might not indicate as much -- and keeping in mind that Tencent shares have more than doubled so far in 2017 as of this writing -- I think investors should be more than pleased with where the company stands today.

Steve Symington has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.