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By Alyssa Abkowitz
This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (November 17, 2017).
BEIJING -- In its push into artificial-intelligence technologies, Chinese internet giant Baidu Inc. is entering the market for "smart home" products with an intelligent speaker and a personal robot.
The company, which is best known as China's leading search engine, announced at its annual Baidu World conference on Thursday that it will begin selling two home assistants -- similar to Amazon.com Inc.'s Echo -- that can execute commands such as playing songs or videos using voice recognition.
With its core search business reaching maturity, Baidu is looking to use its AI capabilities in new enterprises. Last year, a medical scandal cut into its advertising revenue and led to a management shuffle.
The company's Raven line of smart-home products, which will be sold in the Chinese market to start, is seen as a way to generate short-term revenue gains while more ambitious ventures such as driverless cars are being developed.
While Amazon and Alphabet Inc.'s Google have established a market in the U.S. for smart-home devices, China's tech firms are just now fielding such products. Earlier this year, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. launched the Tmall Genie, a voice-assistant controlled speaker, and Tencent Holdings Ltd. announced a similar product called Xiaowei. Smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp.'s entry costs less than $50 and includes audiobooks and radio as content.
While the market for smart speakers in China is still unknown, analysts say many companies are jumping in to gain consumer data. By ordering merchandise or choosing songs online, users give device companies a wealth of data that can be used to offer additional products and services, said Kitty Fok, China managing director at consulting firm IDC.
Baidu's Raven H can hail a taxi, play a song or search for information on the company's search engine. The second product, Raven R, is a stationary robot that provides similar functions as the Raven H, but can also move on an axis, allowing it to dance along to music.
Unlike other smart speakers that are controlled only by voice, Raven H has a base with a detachable touch screen, allowing a user to move about the home and control the device directly. It will be available next month for 1,699 yuan ($257).
Baidu didn't announce the price for the Raven R, which will be available next spring along with a third smart-home product, the Raven Q.
Click Here for more Tencent Holding Ltd. (PC) Charts.
By Alyssa Abkowitz in Beijing and Chester Yung in Hong Kong
Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. continued its winning streak, reporting earnings that rose nearly 70% from a year earlier, driven by growth in mobile-gaming and advertising sales, particularly on the company's video-streaming platform.
Shares of the Shenzhen, China-based company have more than doubled since Jan. 1, raising its market capitalization to nearly $466 billion. Tencent also made headlines last week when it bought a 12% stake in U.S. social media company Snap Inc., becoming one of its largest shareholders.
On a conference call with investors Wednesday, Tencent President Martin Lau said the company saw an opportunity to acquire Snap shares at "a pretty attractive price" and said Tencent may look to do "something more strategic with them" in the future.
Profits handily beat Wall Street's expectations, reaching 18 billion yuan ($2.71 billion) from 10.6 billion yuan a year earlier. Revenues climbed 61% to 65.2 billion yuan from 40.3 billion yuan. The company reported after the close of trading in Hong Kong Wednesday, where shares closed down 1.3%.
Heavy spending on video content is starting to pay off for Tencent, which at the end of September was the No. 1 video-streaming service in paid subscriptions, according to data firm App Annie. Tencent now has more than 43 million paying subscribers, up from 20 million in November 2016.
The company also said revenues from video advertising grew 70% from the year-earlier period, which helped contribute to overall online advertising revenue increasing 48% from the year-ago period.
"While the video sector as a whole is still making losses, we will continue to invest in the long run," Mr. Lau said, adding that video is an important component of the firm's cross-media strategy.
Video-streaming is a hotly contested area for Tencent and its other tech rivals, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Baidu Inc. Tencent and Baidu, particularly, have been going back and forth to woo paid subscribers with a mix of exclusive and licensed content. Mr. Lau said Tencent had made headway in expanding its young female user base in drama, the most popular genre, and in scheduling programming to optimize viewership.
The bulk of Tencent's revenues continued to come from games. Smartphone gaming revenues rose 84% from a year earlier, anchored by smash hit battle game "Honor of Kings."
The company's messaging, mobile-payment and social-media platform, WeChat, which is the most popular app in China, reached 980 million users at the end up September, up 16% from a year earlier.
Its other businesses, including mobile payments and cloud services, recorded revenue growth of 143% from the year-ago period. The company said payment volume from mobile payments in brick-and-mortar stores rose 280%.
Mr. Lau said overseas growth of WeChat Pay will be serving Chinese tourists, and that globally, the company is pursuing a "partnership strategy" with local players instead of competing with them.
On the heels of Tencent's successful spinoff of its online publishing business, China Literature Ltd., Tencent executives noted that as investee companies reach maturity, the company will look to make them go public but that homegrown businesses make more sense to "stay together so they can reinforce each other."
Write to Alyssa Abkowitz at [email protected] and Chester Yung at [email protected]
"The technology sector has significantly outperformed global stockmarkets over one, three, five and 10 years, beating the MSCI World index every time. That's largely the result of strong contributions from the so-called FAANG stocks: ..."
" Central banks, with the agreement of politicians around the world, are creating and devaluing money at an astonishing rate as they lend money to banks, financial institutions and big businesses at, or close to, negative interest rates.They do ..."
Fund Manager Comments
As at 31 October 2014
October proved particularly eventful for equity markets as pronounced
weakness during the first two weeks was followed by a remarkable recovery,
with the FTSE World Index managing to close the month 1.9% higher in
sterling terms. The proto growth scare that rattled markets in September
stepped-up a notch during early October following German industrial
production data (-4% vs. expectations of -1.5%) that represented the
largest drop in activity for four years, while the IMF reduced its 2015 global
growth forecast from 4% to 3.8%. Weaker US data (retail sales, PPI and
Empire Manufacturing) added to the gloom while Ebola-related newsflow
(both rumoured and actual) likely contributed to a growing sense of investor
consternation, evident by sharply lower equity markets (both the US and UK
correcting c.10% from their recent highs). US 10-year sovereign yields not
only breached 2% for the first time since 2012 but also witnessed a 34 basis
point one-day move - the largest one-day swing since QE began in March
2009. An increasing sense of panic was also evident in the oil price (-11%)
and soaring implied volatility on the S&P 500 (VIX) that intra-month reached
its highest level (31) since late 2011.
Fortunately an encouraging start to third-quarter earnings season saw
investors take advantage of top-down weakness, driving a sharp market
recovery during the second-half of the month, aided by better economic
data both in the US (consumer confidence at its highest level since 2007)
and internationally (manufacturing PMIs coming in ahead of expectations in
China, Japan and the Eurozone). More importantly, rumours of impending
asset purchases by the ECB (and fallacious reports that they might even look
to buy corporate bonds) helped markets shrug-off weaker US housing (new
home prices falling 4% year-on-year, the largest drop since January 2012)
and slightly disappointing personal income data. With investors hopes firmly
focused on the ECB, it ironically ended up being the Bank of Japan that
saved the day when it unexpectedly boosted its asset purchasing
programme from approximately ¥50trillion to ¥80trillion including up to
¥3trillion of equities (via ETFs). This, together with some positive Ebola
developments (Nigeria said to be virus-free/developed market outbreaks
remaining well contained) saw equity markets rally into month-end, while
the US remarkably made an all-time closing high.
The technology sector modestly outpaced the broader market during the
month, the Dow Jones World Technology Index rising 2.2% in sterling terms,
aided by the relative strength of the US market and the dollar. Small-caps
rebounded sharply (echoing a broader market small-cap recovery) amid an
encouraging start to third-quarter earnings season. The first half of the
month saw the technology sector give up ground due to the combination of
market weakness and a series of profit warnings, as is the norm during preannouncement
season. Initially these were contained to companies with
disproportionate exposure to service provider spending (including Adtran,
Juniper, Riverbed and Spirent) reflecting continued weakness in carrier
capital spending trends, particularly in North America. However, a surprise
profit-warning from Microchip shook the entire semiconductor sector
because it was accompanied by a warning from the company that another
industry correction has begun and presaged the most dramatic one day
correction in the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (-6.9%) seen since the
financial crisis. While a number of other semiconductor companies appeared
to confirm some near-term order softness, there were more than a few
strong results within the Apple supply chain while Intel delivered another
strong quarter, aided by both share gains and likely inventory build. The lack
of corroborating evidence of an industry downturn allowed st
OTOH, they have taken off again this week and are now at 454p.
Chance or on the back of the Telegraph recommendation?
So I'm changing my view to "Hold".
Tech stocks haven't been doing too badly recently, so maybe there is some mileage in this one.
Richard Evans has this recommended today by Elissa Bayer of Investec as a "Buy and Forget" fund.
I've held it since 2007 and the performance has not been good although it has been a little better recently.
In fact, I'd have made much more putting my money in the Post Office!
Based on my experience I'd rather say "Don't buy and forget it".
"The technology sector has struggled to shake off the legacy of its meteoric rise and catastrophic fall at the turn of the century.However, it is difficult for investors to abandon the notion that investing in a manager who is seeking out the next ..."
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