Xiaomi was traded publicly for the first time today on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index (symbol: 1810-HK), with the market having since closed for the day. Xiaomi’s target price for its initial public offering was $17HK per share, an expectation it failed to meet.
The stock fell upwards of 6% in early trading, but later rallied to close in on that target IPO price, ending the day at $16.80HK. This gives the smartphone maker a market capitalization (value) of over $50 billion, a far cry from the $100 billion Xiaomi sought when announcing its plans for an IPO earlier this year. Still, $50 billion isn’t nothing, and while the stock failed to rally in a way Xiaomi’s board had likely hoped, things could always have gone worse.
As a result, Xiaomi is now one of the most valuable publicly-traded smartphone companies on earth. Though a far cry from Apple, Google, or even Samsung in terms of overall market capitalization, Xiaomi is – on paper – now worth more than three times as much as the entirety of LG Electronics. Think about that for a second.
Of course, Xiaomi is overall a much smaller company than many of the brands it now finds itself compared to. Xiaomi’s revenue goals for fiscal 2017 were around $16.8 billion, a goal it said it achieved by the end of October. While LG is valued at less than a third of Xiaomi, it generated over three times the sales in 2017 (over $55 billion in revenue). Major questions remain about Xiaomi’s ability to profitably expand outside Southeast Asia, with competitors like Huawei and HMD Global (Nokia) – both of which are privately held companies – having already established foothelds in Western Europe and other key markets Xiaomi is likely looking to grow into.
With global smartphone growth slipping, I could see two major narratives unfold for Xiaomi – one good, one bad. The positive outlook holds that, in a market where consumers are holding onto phones longer and shopping around more, Xiaomi’s value-first approach will have real appeal. If a smartphone is merely a means to an end, why spend more money than strictly necessary on one? The other bodes far more poorly: the smartphone market has become saturated, and consumers are inundated with ads and incentives from much larger brands with more value-adds to offer than Xiaomi, especially outside of China. Xiaomi could find it intensely difficult to break into markets where Samsung and Apple are heavily entrenched, even with its price-conscious approach.
Only time will tell what the future holds for Xiaomi, and today’s IPO didn’t seem to clear up any long-term questions about the company.