Despite recent concerns about China's tepid economic growth, shares of Chinese online gaming giantNetEase (NTES) - Get Report have skyrocketed some 15% in the past month. Investors want to know if the momentum can last, especially since NetEase's profit margins have been under pressure due to its relatively new e-commerce business and the temporary suspension of some of its lottery related products.
NetEase has seen its shares soar almost 50% since the start of the year, crushing not only the S&P 500 Index (SPX) , but also surpassing the 13% gain in iShares North American Tech-Software ETF (IGV) - Get Report -- home to prominent software stocks like Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report and Salesforce.com (CRM) - Get Report . But don't think about selling these shares just yet.
Ahead of NetEase's third-quarter fiscal 2015 earnings results, which are slated to be released after the closing bell Wednesday, there are tons of reasons to expect these shares will continue to rise in the quarters and years ahead, according to Credit Suisse analyst Nick Bertolott. While citing NetEase's strong growth in online games -- particularly those licensed by Activision Blizzard (ATVI) - Get Report like "World of Warcraft" -- Bertolott upgraded NetEase's stock to outperform from neutral. He also set a 12-month price target of $162 per share, which implies a gain of roughly 10% from its current trading price of around $148.
NetEase could take Wall Street by surprise with its "resilient" PC games and promising mobile games, noted Bertolott. The company's revenue growth for the just-ended third quarter could reach 53% year over year, he predicted.
One particular interesting note, Bertolott's bullish revenue growth projection and price target still put him on the conservative side of analysts' consensus.
For the quarter that ended September, the average analyst revenue estimate calls for 5.51 billion Chinese yuan, or $885.7 million, translating to year-over-year growth of 77% -- 24 percentage points higher than Bertolott's forecast.
Third-quarter earning-per-share, meanwhile, is projected to be 11.30 yuan, or $1.78 per share, marking a 28% year over year jump. For the full year, ending in December, earnings are projected to climb 20% year over year to 43.65 yuan a share, or $6.86 a share, while revenue of 19.11 billion yuan, or $3 billion, would mark a year-over-year surge of 63%.
There's nothing conservative about these numbers. And if you're concerned about a slowdown, consider NetEase's fiscal 2016 consensus earnings estimates of 51.98 yuan a share, or $8.17 a share. This implies year-over-year earnings growth of 19% above 2015 projections. Not to mention, its projected five-year annual average earnings growth rate of 20% is about four times that of the S&P 500.
This projected growth rate, which has resulted in a consensus buy rating for NetEase's stock, implies that its profit margin struggles should be fixed sooner rather than later. So, despite the slightly implied lack of value by its P/E ratio of 22 -- one point higher than the S&P 500 -- investors can still do well with NetEase, which also pays a 1.3% annual dividend yield.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.