Roblox's avatar lineup. Courtesy Roblox Videogame stocks’ pain could be Big Tech’s gain.
Another potential crackdown on Chinese tech companies may push investors back to the relative safety of large U.S. technology stocks such as Alphabet (ticker: GOOGL) and Microsoft (MSFT), according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives. Worry over a crackdown emerged Tuesday, after a publication controlled by the Chinese government described online games as “spiritual opium,” according to multiple reports .
“It feels like everyday there is another regulatory shot across the bow from Beijing which is adding pronounced risks to Chinese tech stocks across the board and thus we continue to see a massive rotation from the China tech sector into the U.S. tech stocks heading into year-end,” Ives wrote in a research note early Tuesday.
Investors may be shifting money to the U.S., but they don’t appear interested in videogame companies with exposure in China. By late Tuesday afternoon, American depositary receipts of Tencent Holdings (ticker: TCEHY) had fallen 7.3% to $56.84, Activision Blizzard (ATVI) dropped 4.6% to $78.95, Electronic Arts (EA) retreated 3.9% to $139.97, and Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO) plunged 9.6% to $156.63.
The article, which has since been replaced by a version with softer language , has led to fear that the videogame industry will soon be targeted by Chinese regulators. That would mark the latest in a series of crackdowns by Beijing.
The Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Global (DIDI) has been targeted by regulators in recent weeks, as the company moved to list its stock in the U.S. For-profit education businesses, too, have been targeted by Chinese authorities.
A move against videogame companies could damage several of the U.S. publishers. Among U.S. videogame companies, Activision has significant exposure to the Chinese market through its Call of Duty franchise. It launched a mobile version in China in December, and according to the mobile data company Sensor Tower, generated more than $14 million in its first week.
Investors may learn more on the company’s earnings call after the closing bell Tuesday . According to its first-quarter financial report, 10%, or $237 million of revenue comes from the Asia Pacific region. Overall first-quarter revenue was $2.3 billion.
EA’s latest annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said that $3.2 billion of its overall fiscal 2021 revenue of $5.6 billion was from international sources, but it didn’t indicate the amount from China. That may change in the future, with the launch of its Apex Legends mobile–but it’s not clear exactly when it will launch. Investors may get an update Wednesday, when EA reports earnings after the closing bell .
Take-Two didn’t break out figures for Asia or China in its earnings report Monday afternoon. Overall international revenue accounted for 39% of the total $813.4 million. Take-Two’s first-quarter results appeared to disappoint investors and analysts, who had elevated expectations heading into Monday . The company reiterated its outlook for its fiscal year.
Other U.S.-traded videogame stocks suffered Tuesday too. Roblox (RBLX) fell 3% to $75.87, and Zynga (ZNGA) dropped 2.3% to $9.82. Shares of Sony (SNE) retreated 1.3%.
Write to Max A. Cherney at [email protected]