Microsoft rallied after the company revealed it's in talks to acquire TikTok's U.S. operations. but market excitement is misplaced.
Microsoft (NYSE:MSFT) rallied over 4% Monday after the company revealed plans to buy TikTok’s U.S. operations. The popular social media app is at risk of being banned in the U.S., but Microsoft believes its acquisition will resolve security concerns raised by the Trump administration.
With expected 2020 revenues of $500 million in the U.S., TikTok could be a significant acquisition for Microsoft. So far, the tech giant has failed to crack the social media sector, but TikTok could change its fortunes.
While investors seem to think so, their optimism is misplaced. TikTok may have experienced dizzying growth in recent months, but it’s likely to remain relatively small compared to established social networks. Microsoft also has a poor track record with consumer tech, not to mention the acquisition still isn’t a done deal.
Microsoft’s share had already been performing well, being up 35% year-to-date. It rose more than 4% Monday morning en route to a high of $215.
Microsoft shareholders have a blog post to thank for today’s rally. The post revealed that CEO Satya Nadella spoke with President Trump regarding the possible acquisition of TikTok in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The post gave the impression that Microsoft is answering the security concerns the Trump administration has raised regarding TikTok.
Soon after the blog was published, reports emerged that Trump has given ByteDance 45 days to negotiate the sale of TikTok.
Microsoft’s price shows that the market is already getting excited about the still-hypothetical deal. Tech entrepreneur (and former presidential candidate) Andrew Yang tweeted that it’s in everyone’s interests.
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told CNBC that he thinks the potential deal is “exciting.” He says Microsoft has a “track record of having to work with government” on regulatory issues.
Yet commentators and the market are getting ahead of themselves. Microsoft may have just increased its market cap by over $70 billion, but TikTok won’t add anything of that magnitude to the company’s balance sheet.
TikTok has multiplied in recent months. Its worldwide revenue rose by a reported 300% in Q4 2019. Its absolute size is still relatively small, and will likely to stay that way.
It grossed $177 million in worldwide revenue in 2019. This might seem impressive, but Facebook generated $18.69 billion in the second quarter of 2020 alone. Even Twitter’s Q2 2020 revenue was $683 million.
TikTok is not likely to be a massive money-spinner for Microsoft. It may be fashionable right now, but its narrow functionality–making short videos–means it will remain marginal compared to the big players, at least in terms of revenue.
Then there’s Microsoft’s poor record in social media and other non-enterprise technology. Bing has barely made a dent in Google’s monopoly, for example, while the firm gave up trying to sell smartphones years ago.
It’s also not guaranteed that ByteDance will agree to sell Microsoft. The two may disagree on price, or Trump may change his mind again, leaving today’s market euphoria with nowhere to go.
That’s why buying Microsoft’s price rally is more of a speculative bet than a cast-iron guarantee of riches. Even if the deal does go through, it won’t provide a massive boost to Microsoft’s bottom line.
Disclaimer: This article represents the author’s opinion and should not be considered investment or trading advice from CCN.com. Unless otherwise noted, the author holds no investment position in the above-mentioned securities.
Last modified: September 23, 2020 2:10 PM