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Momo Lives Up to the First-Half Hype

By Rick Munarriz - Updated May 29, 2018 at 12:50PM

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China's social video speedster moves higher after posting its first quarter of accelerating revenue growth in more than a year.

One of this year's hottest stocks keeps moving on up. Shares of Momo (MOMO 4.95%) opened nicely higher on Tuesday after the company posted encouraging first-quarter results. The Chinese social video specialist was already trading 59% higher year to date ahead of Tuesday morning's financial update.

Net revenue rose 64% to hit $435.1 million, which is well ahead of Momo's earlier guidance that was calling for just 46% to 52% in top-line growth. After four quarters of decelerating year-over-year revenue growth -- the top line rose at a 57% clip last time out -- Momo overcame its outlook to post accelerating growth.

Momo app on a smartphone.

Image source: Momo.

Finish strong

Momo has seen a hot start to a calendar year fizzle out in the end. The shares soared 139% through the first six months of last year, only to surrender 44% of their value through the final half of 2017.

Thankfully for Momo investors, there are plenty of encouraging signs in Tuesday morning's quarterly update. The platform's popularity continues to grow, topping nine figures for the first time. Momo had 103.3 million monthly active users in March, up from the 99.1 million it was entertaining three months earlier and 85.2 million on its platform a year earlier.

Live video continues to be the primary driver here, accounting for 85% of the revenue at Momo. Live video service revenue soared 75% to $371.5 million for the first three months of the year. One thing that hurt Momo stock during last year's second-half slide was stagnancy in live video premium users. The count was stuck at 4.1 million through the first three quarters of 2017. It rose to 4.3 million in the fourth quarter, and has now inched its way up to 4.4 million paying users. Momo points out that the average revenue per paying user is also on the rise, but it doesn't spell out the actual gain on that front.

Adjusted earnings rose 57% to $142.3 million -- or $0.69 a share. Momo doesn't offer bottom-line guidance, but the market was pleasantly surprised by the robust growth on both ends of the income statement. The stock would go on to open 10% higher on Tuesday, pushing its year-to-date stock gain to a hearty 7%.

Momo is targeting $470 million to $485 million in revenue for the current quarter, which is growth of 51% to 55% since the prior year's second quarter. The growth won't all be organic. Momo expects to consolidate Tantan -- the social dating app that it announced it would be acquiring earlier this year -- in June, adding $4.5 million to its revenue goal. However, Momo's guidance has been conservative in the past. 

The stock is off to a hot start again this year. Investors are hoping that growing premium users and a logical acquisition will help save the chart from another second-half collapse.

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