I went over some of the stocks hitting new lows yesterday, so now let's turn our attention to some of the unlikely winners that are ringing up fresh 52-week highs. China Mobile (NYSE: CHL), Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA), and Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) are among the hundreds of stocks that are trading at their highest levels in more than a year.
Things shouldn't be going that way, given their recent ho-hum revenue growth. China Mobile may be China's leading wireless carrier, but the economy of the world's most populous nation is slowing. Zynga is the mobile gaming company that made its mark a decade ago when folks were playing FarmVille and Mafia Wars on social media. Did you know that Zynga is still relevant today? Finally we have Comcast, the cable television provider that's making positive waves as the rest of its smaller peers suffer from the cord-cutting revolution.
The mobile revolution is alive and well in China, but don't expect spectacular growth when it comes to China Mobile. We're talking about modest single-digit growth in each of the past six years, but that doesn't make China Mobile any less dominant.
China Mobile is the undisputed top dog in its country, as the whopping 916 million mobile connections on its books at the end of the third quarter find it roughly three times as large as its nearest rivals. The balance of its accounts come in the form of wireline broadband and Internet of Things smart connections.
China Mobile still has a lot of work to do. Average revenue per mobile user needs to improve, and a lot of that is riding on the 5G rollout that will dramatically juice up data speeds. Jefferies analyst Edison Lee upgraded China Mobile last week, arguing that its 5G spectrum will help lower its leasing costs and strengthen its margins. The stock may not be growing as quickly as glitzier Chinese stocks, but its steady business has made it a popular defensive stock for risk-averse investors wanting a play in the country's inevitable turnaround.
It's not just "CSR2" players racing these days. Image source: Zynga.
Zynga is another mobile-related stock hitting fresh highs -- and in this case a five-year peak -- despite cranking out single-digit revenue growth. The casual gaming specialist grew its top line by 7% in its latest quarter, but that was actually ahead of its earlier guidance.
Mobile advertising revenue and bookings rose 23% and 20%, respectively, as engagement grows for some of its currently popular diversions, including Words With Friends, Merge Dragons!, and CSR2. A couple of years ago an argument could've been made that Zynga was a compelling acquisition target, given all of the video game giants snapping up popular mobile developers, but Zynga's doing just fine on its own now.
It's important to take Comcast's 26% revenue surge for its latest quarter in stride. The cable giant and media mogul may have come through with its headiest growth since late 2011, but it wasn't all organic. The acquisition of Sky helped inflate results, as revenue rose just 5% on a consolidated basis.
Comcast is holding up just fine in the cord-cutting revolution that's obliterating its peers. It may have shed 29,000 net video customers in the fourth quarter, but it more than made up for that by padding its high-speed internet subscriber count by 351,000. It's also made good use of its cable business as a cash cow to bankroll deals for content and even theme parks. Comcast's game has been lacking on the streaming video front, but should change in time.
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