Chinese growth stocks are facing the music these days, but Tencent Music Entertainment (NYSE:TME) is literally always facing the music. China's leading streaming music provider reported slightly better-than-expected results after Monday's market close, but a high-ranking executive stepping down is weighing on the otherwise encouraging financial results.
Revenue rose 39% to $855 million, just ahead of the $850 million that analysts were targeting. Top-line growth is decelerating from the 84% it served up through the first nine months of last year and the 51% uptick it scored in the fourth quarter, its first earnings report as a public company. It's still a welcome top-line beat, something that investors were treated to the first time around.
The path down the income statement has been bumpy in both reports, and this time we saw operating profit and net income rise 23% and 15%, respectively. However, adjusted earnings of $0.11 a share was also just above the $0.10 a share that Wall Street pros were modeling. Tencent Music Entertainment finally got it right the second time around.
Singing in a new key
Tencent Music Entertainment operates several of China's most popular music streaming and social karaoke sites, controlling the lion's share of the country's market. Its position is so dominant that a month ago reports surfaced that Tencent Music Entertainment was under investigation for possible antitrust violations.
Tencent Music Entertainment's biggest business is social entertainment, accounting for 72% of its revenue. The segment is growing faster than the rest of the business, with revenue climbing 44% over the past year. The more traditional music streaming platforms grew at a still-respectable 28% clip.
Audiences for Tencent Music Entertainment's apps aren't growing anywhere as quickly as its top line. There were 654 million mobile monthly active users across it online music services, up 4.6% over the past year. Social entertainment's mobile monthly active users inched a mere 0.4% higher. We're seeing healthy double-digit revenue growth on both fronts as Tencent Music Entertainment is excelling at turning freeloaders into premium members. The number of paying users rose 27% in online music and 13% on the social entertainment front. There's still a lot of upside there, as less than 5% of its monthly active users are currently premium accounts.
It was a solid quarter for Tencent Music Entertainment, but the announcement on Monday night that co-president and board member Guomin Xie was resigning for personal reasons early next month initially ate into the market's enthusiasm for the stock.
Tencent Music Entertainment continues to trade above its IPO price since going public at $13 in mid-December. It was a rough time to go public, and things aren't much better now with trade tariff tensions keeping Chinese growth stocks in check. Tencent Music Entertainment remains a name that investors will want to consider when Chinese equities bounce back. It is highly profitable -- something that can't be said for many of the world's other streaming music specialists -- and it's hard to dismiss the prospects for a company that controls roughly 75% of China's streaming music market. This may be the second time in as many quarters in which the stock fades out during earnings season, but as long as it continues to grow profitably, it will eventually learn how to pump up the volume.