Baidu/iQiyi: quick shrift | Monetary Instances

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Brief sellers have discovered Chinese language firms listed within the US a fruitful supply of curiosity. The newest goal on observe to offer a windfall is China’s Netflix rival iQiyi.

Father or mother firm Baidu, which controls iQiyi via a 56 per cent stake, will need to have hoped that second-quarter outcomes would give shares a lift on Friday. IQiyi revenues rose four per cent to Rmb7.4bn ($676m) whereas Baidu gross sales fell barely to Rmb26bn — beating expectations. Income from new companies together with cloud computing grew by double-digits.

As an alternative, traders have centered on iQiyi’s disclosure of a US Securities and Trade Fee probe into gross sales and consumer numbers. Brief vendor Wolfpack Analysis has accused iQiyi of overstating gross sales final 12 months by as much as 44 per cent. For shareholders, the disclosure is prone to deliver again recollections of Luckin Espresso’s spectacular 92 per cent share worth drop following comparable allegations.

Baidu had already began wanting right into a Hong Kong itemizing. IQiyi’s troubles would possibly immediate Baidu to hunt out a secondary itemizing for that firm first. However not like listed friends reminiscent of Alibaba and NetEase, iQiyi is just not a gorgeous prospect.

Promoting gross sales are weakening. Regardless of subscription income rising practically a fifth, iQiyi’s advert gross sales fell 28 per cent within the final quarter.

Furthermore, iQiyi’s enterprise mannequin requires steady heavy spending on content material. Brief-video apps like TikTok have the benefit of hundreds of thousands of customers who add selfmade movies, which viewers can then entry with out subscriptions. The recognition of TikTok’s content material has accelerated a shift in promoting income in direction of quick movies and away from Baidu and iQiyi.

These considerations plus the potential danger of a compelled delisting usually are not but totally mirrored in iQiyi’s market capitalisation. Its valuation is a few third of Netflix’s as measured by its enterprise worth to trailing ebitda ratio. But when Wolfpack’s allegations towards the Chinese language firm show true, that distinction will solely widen extra. Greatest to observe this story play out from afar.

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