Tencent’s $143-billion drop is the world’s biggest share wipeout

If you thought the slump in U.S. technology stocks was bad, take a look at Tencent Holdings Ltd.

The Chinese Internet giant has tumbled 25 percent from its January peak, erasing about $143 billion of market value. That’s the biggest wipeout of shareholder wealth worldwide, as measured from the date of each stock’s 52-week high. Facebook Inc., the F in the FANG block of mega-cap U.S. tech shares, is the second-biggest loser with a $136 billion slump over the past three trading sessions.

Investors around the world are beginning to question whether the best days are over for technology stocks — the leaders of a nine-year boom in global equities. Tencent, Asia’s second-largest company after e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., has also been dogged by concern that growth in its mobile-gaming unit is slowing. The stock, down 3.3 percent on Tuesday and 9.8 percent in July, capped its biggest monthly retreat since 2014.

“Investors are increasingly pricing in lower expectations for Tencent’s interim results,” said Linus Yip, a strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong. “Overall, tech companies are facing a similar problem. They have been enjoying fast profit growth in the past few years, so it will be difficult for them to maintain similar growth in the future as the competition grows and some segments are saturated.”

Tencent’s year-on-year profit growth probably slowed to 5.1 percent in the second quarter, the weakest pace since 2012, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. At least 11 brokerages cut their Tencent share-price target this month, including Credit Suisse Group AG and Morgan Stanley.

While analysts have ratcheted down their expectations, they haven’t turned bearish yet. All 51 forecasters tracked by Bloomberg have the equivalent of a buy recommendation on Tencent’s shares, with the average price target implying a 45 percent gain over the next 12 months.

Whether they’re right may depend on what Tencent says in its second-quarter earnings announcement on Aug. 15.

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Tencent’s $143-billion drop is the world’s biggest share wipeout