China Mobile (CHL) provides wireless voice and value-added services through networks covering mainland China and a substantial part of Hong Kong, and ranks as the largest mobile carrier in the world, with 575 million subscribers at the end of October. The total population within China Mobile's service area is 1 billion.
In January 2009 it also started offering 3G wireless services on the GSM standard, a digital system dominant in Europe and many other areas worldwide. The company also has a 20% stake in Phoenix Satellite Television as it seeks to develop its value-added services.
Standard & Poor's, which has its shares rated "hold," with a $53 price target, said in a March 26 research note that "we believe emerging-market risk for (the company) is offset by its strong cash flow generation and balance sheet and its market leadership position in China's wireless industry.""China's wireless penetration rate reached 58.4% in May 2010, up from 50.7% a year earlier," S&P said, which compares with the more than 90% penetration rate in the U.S., leaving room for continued growth among wireless providers in the Chinese market. Standard & Poor's found one "buy/hold" and one "hold" rating among analysts. For fiscal 2011, analysts estimate that CHL's earnings per share will grow 3% to $4.31. China Mobile's shares are down 6.8% this year and 0.4% over the past year, giving it a market value of $185 billion. Only 1.6% of its shares are owned by institutional investors, and there is less than 1% mutual fund ownership.