China A Favorite For Investors Even As Trade War Risks Grow

Even high-quality stocks can become victims of circumstance, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Thursday, as he reviewed the prospects for newly public Chinese music streaming service Tencent Music Entertainment.

A subsidiary of Tencent Holdings, a Chinese conglomerate made up of various technology and internet-related companies, Tencent Music went public in the United States on Wednesday in a highly anticipated initial public offering. It marked the biggest U.S.-based IPO by a Chinese company since Alibaba's debut in 2014.

But even though the company raised more than $1 billion in its IPO, is showing "incredible" revenue growth and has an inexpensive stock, confusion around U.S.-China trade relations makes buying shares fairly risky, Cramer said.

"In a vacuum, Tencent Music Entertainment would be a screaming buy here. But in context? I'm going to give you my blessing if you want to speculate in the stock, just don't put it in your retirement portfolio," he warned on "Mad Money."

As the ninth-largest IPO of the year, Tencent Music still has a lot of things going for it, Cramer acknowledged. Essentially the "Chinese Spotify," the company has 880 million monthly average users with room to grow its paid subscribers, which currently make up only 4 percent of its total user base.

This year, Tencent Music — in which Spotify actually has a 9 percent stake — saw 84 percent organic revenue growth and "stunning" margin expansion, Cramer said. Better yet, the company has a "pristine" balance sheet and has been profitable since 2016, which are notably positive characteristics for a newly public player, the "Mad Money" host noted.

Cramer also liked that Tencent Music deals in micropayments, an offering that sets it apart from its Western peers. With micropayments, which are huge in China, people can tip their favorite artists, bloggers and online personalities through websites or apps.

"Tencent Music is a major part of the micropayment ecosystem because they let you give virtual gifts," Cramer said. "If you want to tip your favorite blogger with a song, you do it through Tencent Music. In the latest quarter we have numbers for, 9.5 million users spent money on virtual gifts, and these purchases accounted for more than 70 percent of Tencent Music's revenue."

But despite all the positives, there are two major issues weighing on Tencent Music's stock. First is that Tencent Holdings, its parent company, wields nearly all the voting power, meaning shareholders are "just along for the ride," Cramer said.

Second is the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China, which still accounts for most of Tencent Music's business and could become a pain point for investors if trade talks go south, said the "Mad Money" host.

"The political risk is too great, even as the company has nothing to do with the tariffs," he said. "But if you think the trade talks will produce a workable agreement, then this may actually be the Chinese stock that you want to buy."

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