What Are BAT Stocks?

BAT is an acronym referring to Baidu Inc. (BIDU), Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA) and Tencent Holdings Ltd. (0700.Hong Kong, TCEHY), three large Chinese internet stocks often likened to Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Google, Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Facebook Inc. (FB). The BATs are often compared to the FANGs—or variations—which comprise Facebook, Amazon, Netflix Inc. (NFLX) and Alphabet.

Understanding BAT Stocks

Many commentators and the media often compare the success of the BATs relative to their American counterparts, the FANGs or FAANGs.

Below is a breakdown of some of their financial metrics as of October 17, 2018:

Skeptics point out that Chinese stocks are frequently subject to speculative swings, and that tech is a frothy sector in any case. For those who consider the FANGs overvalued, the BATs are even more so. On the other hand, Chinese companies have a larger potential domestic market and have pulled ahead of American firms in some areas, such as mobile payments.

Baidu

China's largest search engine. Google left China in 2010, allowing the Chinese company to grow with relatively little competition. It now controls around 80% of domestic market share. It offers an encyclopedia similar to Wikipedia, though editing permissions are more tightly controlled. Other services include maps, social media, and music. The company researches artificial intelligence and self-driving cars.

Alibaba

An e-commerce firm that operates two main online portals: Taobao, for consumer-to-consumer commerce, and a business-to-consumer counterpart, Tmall. The company has also developed a successful payments service, Alipay, which it spun off as a subsidiary of Ant Financial. Alibaba has a cloud computing division and owns the South China Morning Post. 

Tencent

The owner of WeChat, a messaging service with close to a billion users. The app supports a popular payments service as well as a number of other features, leading FastCompany to call it China's "app for everything." The company also owns successful massively multiplayer online games such as Clash of Clans, which boasts tens of millions of users.