Tencent reports slowest revenue growth on record as China’s regulatory headwinds remain

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Tencent’s twin-skyscrapers at Shenzhen Bay Start Up Plaza in Nanshan business district.
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Tencent reported its slowest quarterly revenue growth on record in the fourth quarter of 2021 as the Chinese technology giant continues to feel the impact of Beijing’s regulatory tightening on the domestic technology sector.

However, the company posted a surge in profit in the fourth quarter.

Here’s how Tencent did in the fourth quarter, versus Refinitiv consensus estimates: 

  • Revenue: 144.18 billion Chinese yuan ($22.62 billion) vs 147.6 billion yuan, up 8% year-on-year. That’s the slowest revenue growth since the company went public in 2004.
  • Profit attributable to equity holders of the company: 94.96 billion yuan vs. 30.7 billion yuan expected. That’s up 60% year-on-year.

For the entire 2021, Tencent brought in revenue of 560.12 billion yuan, up 16% versus 2020. Analysts had expected 566.3 billion yuan. That was the slowest yearly revenue growth rate on record.

Tencent, which has lost about $470 billion in market value since its peak in early 2021, has faced a number of headwinds resulting from China’s crackdown in areas ranging from gaming to education.

Online games is Tencent’s largest revenue driver. Last year, regulators cut the amount of time children under 18 years old could play online games for. Meanwhile, authorities haven’t approved the launch of any games since July last year. In China, games need regulatory approval to be released and monetized.

Last year, Beijing also cracked down on after-school education companies. That could weigh on Tencent’s advertising business as education firms would buy ads with Tencent. And broader macroeconomic issues such as sluggish consumer spending in China could also weigh on the company’s ad business.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for more.

Sophie Tremblay

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