Xiaomi Eyes Emerging Markets, Qihoo Targets US

Xiaomi, Qihoo in new global moves

Two of China’s fastest-growing tech firms are stepping up their overseas expansion, with word that smartphone sensation Xiaomi is planning a major acceleration of its drive into emerging markets, as security software maker Qihoo 360 (NYSE: QIHU) eyes the US. The Xiaomi move looks like a smart one by avoiding developed markets for now, though the rapid speed of the expansion could strain the company’s resources. Meantime, the Qihoo move looks mostly like hype, in a bid to prop up its rapidly deflating share price. I also seriously question Qihoo’s decision to target such a competitive market like the US for its first move outside China. Continue reading

Bidding War Breaks Out For Chindex

Chindex gets sweetened buyout offer

Many smaller Chinese companies may be getting little or no respect from Wall Street these days, but private equity seems a bit more interested in these undervalued firms. That’s my latest assessment following word that a bidding war has broken out for Chindex (Nasdaq: CNDX), an operator of clinics in China. Chindex said it received a sweetened buyout offer from a managed-led group that first bid for the company in February, after a rival bidder stepped in. This kind of bidding war has been relatively rare in the recent flurry of privatizations by Chinese firms, though this particular case hints that we could see 1 or 2 more similar wars occur as the trend plays out. Continue reading

Weibo: TCL, ZTE On Road Trips; Ominous Kudo For Sina Weibo

TCL’s Li, ZTE’s Zeng take to the road

Two of China’s top tech executives were on the road last week, with ZTE (HKEx: 763; Shenzhen: 000063) and TCL (Shenzhen: 000100) officials making overseas visits that could hint at their future directions. Meantime, congratulations were pouring in from around the tech world for Sina (Nasdaq: SINA) on its IPO for (Nasdaq: WB), which struggled to find an audience among big investors but then managed to make a respectable trading debut. Such kudos aren’t unexpected for the popular microblogging platform, often called the Twitter of China. But one particular message from controversial tech titan and Qihoo 360 (NYSE: QIHU) CEO Zhou Hongyi looked just slightly ominous to me, even though the message itself was purely congratulatory. Continue reading

News Digest: April 24, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on April 24. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
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  • Xiaomi To Enter 10 New Countries For Smartphone Sales (English article)
  • China National Cable TV Operator Completes Registration (Chinese article)
  • Qihoo (NYSE: QIHU), Sungy (Nasdaq: GOMO) Partner To Target Global Expansion (PRNewswire)
  • China Telecom (HKEx: 728) To Release 4G Handsets In May – Sources (English article)
  • Yingli (NYSE: YGE) Proposes Follow-on Public Offering of 25 Mln ADSs (PRNewswire)
  • Latest calendar for Q1 earnings reports (Earnings calendar)

China Mobile Set For Painful Year In 2014

China Mobile reports ugly Q1

Leading wireless telco China Mobile (HKEx: 941; NYSE: CHL) has kicked off the first-quarter earnings season with some numbers that look quite scary, reflecting a sharp slowdown as its home market shows growing signs of saturation. Adding to the problem is the rapid growth of “over the top” (OTT) apps like Tencent’s (HKEx: 700) popular WeChat, which are stealing business from China Mobile’s traditional text messaging service. I commented last month that a recent sell-off in China Mobile shares could represent a good buying opportunity, but clearly these latest results show the company is going through a period of painful readjustment that is likely to last for the rest of this year. Continue reading

Tesla CEO Makes Smooth Drive Into China

Tesla drives into China

I have to give my congratulations to new energy car maker Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) for creating the kind of buzz and excitement this week that only names like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and smartphone sensation Xiaomi have typically been able to muster. In the last 2 days, the company and its charismatic founder Elon Musk were all over the Chinese headlines as Tesla delivered its first electric vehicles (EVs) in China on the sidelines of the nation’s biggest annual auto show happening this week in Beijing. Musk seems to have done interviews with nearly all of the major publications I regularly read, leading me to wonder if the man ever sleeps. Continue reading

McDonalds Quickens Franchising Drive

McDonalds steps up franchising drive

Fast food leaders McDonalds (NYSE: MCD) and KFC (NYSE: YUM) have unveiled major China overhauls in the last few weeks, as each tries to reignite stalling growth in one of their biggest and most profitable markets. Such retrenchments are long overdue, more than 2 decades after each company first came to China and  achieved huge success by opening stores that offered not only good food at affordable prices but also friendly service and a comfortable eating environment. Continue reading

Shanghai Street View: Misguided Measurement

Shanghai improves air quality reporting

Shanghai environmental officials have been busy this past week boasting of the latest improvements to their system for informing the public about the city’s most up-to-date air quality. In the latest advance to the ever-improving system, people can now get real-time updates online and over their mobile phones to find out just how good or bad Shanghai’s air is.

Perhaps I’m being a bit cynical, but I’m starting to get just a tad tired of this constant stream of improvements to the city’s air quality reporting system, each of which gets huge coverage in the local media. Obviously it’s good to know just how polluted our air is, and more information will allow ordinary people to make better choices about how they structure their daily activities. Continue reading

News Digest: April 23, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on April 23. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
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Perfect World’s Shanda Buy: Consolidation Coming?

Perfect World buys into Shanda Games

The online game industry has just gotten a small hint of potential consolidation, with word that mid-sized player Perfect World (Nasdaq: PWRD) is buying a stake of rival Shanda Games (Nasdaq: GAME), which is in the process of privatizing. The tie-up that will see Perfect World buy about 6 percent of Shanda Games’ shares comes as both companies confront sagging profits, and could kick off a period of consolidation for the highly fragmented industry. I’ve incorrectly predicted such consolidation before, but a recent wave of M&A in China’s Internet and other recent trends could mean that such an overhaul could finally be coming to online games. Continue reading

New York IPO Scorecard: Still Some Life

Still some steam in IPO market

Two weeks after this year’s first Chinese IPO in New York, there’s still a bit of life left in the market despite recent signs of slowing momentum. That’s my quick assessment after looking at the performance of the 4 companies to list so far this year, starting with education services firm Tarena (Nasdaq: TEDU), followed by clinic operator iKang (Nasdaq: KANG) and finally online real estate services firm Leju (NYSE: LEJU) and microblogging giant Weibo (Nasdaq: WB). Meantime, media are reporting that this year’s most highly anticipated IPO from Alibaba is getting delayed, after reports emerged last week that the e-commerce giant could make its first regulatory filing for a New York offering this week. Continue reading