HONG KONG — Online e-commerce giant Alibaba Group announced revenue for the quarter ending Sept. 30 rose 55 percent year-over-year.
Revenue from the firm’s China commerce retail business for the period was $3.62 billion, or 70 percent of total revenue, an increase of 40 percent compared with the same quarter last year.
“Our highly profitable and cash-flow-generative core commerce business enables us to invest in our future growth areas of cloud computing, digital media and entertainment and innovation initiatives,” said Maggie Wu, chief financial officer.
The company didn’t specify profit numbers, but the strong top-line growth comes just over a week before its Singles’ Day shopping event, which is set to be its most extravagant ever. The event is set to feature virtual reality shopping and appearances from pop singer Katy Perry and former NBA player Kobe Bryant. It also is expanding its offers outside of Mainland China for the first time to Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The mobile monthly active users on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces reached 450 million, up 30 percent year-over-year, the company said. Annual active buyers on China retail marketplaces grew to 439 million, up 14 percent from the year before.
Alibaba’s rapid growth has made it one of the highest-profile digital players in the world and with that attention comes more scrutiny. In May, the firm said its accounting practices were receiving a closer look from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The U.S. securities watchdog pushed Alibaba for more information on how it accounts for investment in the logistics provider Cainiao Network, its related-party transactions and how it reports operating data from Singles Day.
The New York Post reported this week that the SEC was working with “one or more whistleblowers” in its investigation.
Asked about the article on a conference call with analysts, Joseph Tsai, executive vice chairman, said: “We’ve been in the process of – with the SEC, they’ve sent us a letter inquiring as to a number of issues. On this, we’ve been very transparent with you guys about what’s going on. We disclosed all the issues involved and the fact that we’re voluntarily cooperating with the SEC in their inquiry. We don’t think there’s any factual basis to the New York Post story.…When we have real news we will update everyone.
“I just want to say I’m not surprised that in days leading up to Singles’ Day our detractors will want to divert people’s attention but we’re not going to be distracted,” he said. “Instead we’re going to focus on what’s really important, bringing the best Singles’ Day experience to our customers.”
Although the Singles’ Day festival was an initiative invented by the group, the sales event has since spread to other retailers including rival JD.com and brick-and-mortar operators.
Tsai said he viewed the adoption of the festival a “positive” for the mutual customers it shares with competitors but said he wasn’t concerned about competition.
“Obviously when you ask people 11/11, the mind-share belongs to Tmall and Alibaba,” he said.