Breakingviews

Sony’s lowball forecasts are oddly reassuring

May 25, 2016

Shares rallied despite a profit outlook that fell below expectations. Setting $1 bln of quake damage aside, the Japanese group is faring well. Consoles are humming along, handsets are stabilising, and a duff project has been nixed quickly. Sony’s turnaround is almost complete.

Tencent can shield itself from ad slowdown

May 19, 2016

The Chinese gaming giant warned a slowing economy may clip its fast-growing advertising business. But soaring revenue from mobile games, which topped $1.3 bln in the first quarter, cushions the blow. Besides, unlike rivals Alibaba and Baidu, Tencent relies less on ad dollars.

Pandora investor hits right note with sale push

May 17, 2016

Activist Keith Meister’s firm urges the online music service to find buyers after becoming its largest shareholder. A costly purchase, CEO change and lack of song rights suggest the company’s fading. Rivals Spotify and Sirius XM are possible partners. The board should be all ears.

Apple’s $1 billion plucks a strange fruit in China

May 13, 2016

The tech giant says investing in car-hailing app Didi – whose Chinese name is “little orange” – will help it in the People’s Republic. Apple can afford to join a costly battle with rival Uber. But it’s less obvious how that will revive iPhone sales or clear regulatory hurdles.

China listing doubts leave Qihoo investors on edge

May 11, 2016

The U.S.-listed web group’s shareholders have accepted a $9 bln buyout offer. Yet a regulatory crackdown may scupper plans to float in China. Even after a rebound the shares trade at an 8 pct discount. That’s scant compensation for the risk that the buyout group may walk away.

Uber’s deal with U.S. drivers looks cheap

May 10, 2016

Treated as employees rather than contractors, the ride-hailing service might have had to pay them as much as $730 mln more, according to court papers. That makes a $100 mln two-state settlement look like peanuts – another reason why the judge on the case might reject it.

Baidu selloff understates long-term health risks

May 10, 2016

Regulators have ordered China’s top search engine to rein in healthcare advertising after a scandal. That could knock as much as a fifth off earnings. Investors who have marked the shares down by 13 pct so far may be underestimating the broader impact on Baidu’s business model.

Baidu shows health is a huge flashpoint in China

May 3, 2016

A dying student accused the search giant of promoting false medical information. The ensuing probe has cut $5 bln from Baidu’s market value: a big move but not an overreaction. Health scandals are highly sensitive and authorities pay close attention to outbursts of online anger.

Who cares who invented bitcoin?

May 2, 2016

The whole point of the cryptocurrency and related technology is that they now live a life of their own. That makes Australian Craig Wright’s claim to be bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto a curiosity at best. There is, however, a caveat related to the originator’s personal stash.

Finance wakes up to fintech’s systemic dangers

April 19, 2016

The Bank of England’s Andy Haldane and Deutsche Bank boss John Cryan are among 53 financial leaders backing the launch of a new forum to debate financial technology. The abuse of data is a concern. But a bigger risk is how fast and obscurely money can move.