Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s head office in Hangzhou, China

LONDON — Less than two weeks after Jack Ma made a surprise public appearance, his first in three months, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba released its latest quarterly results on Tuesday.

The Hangzhou-based company’s revenue increased 37 percent year-over-year to $33.89 billion in the quarter ended Dec. 31, beating analysts’ estimates of $33.23 billion, according to data from Refinitiv.

Income from operations was $7.51 billion, up 24 percent, and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization grew 22 percent year-over-year to $10.48 billion

Net income attributable to ordinary shareholders was $12.173 billion, and net income was $11.95 billion.

Annual active consumers on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces reached 779 million in 2020, an increase of 22 million from the 12-month period ended Sept. 30, 2020, while its mobile monthly active users reached 902 million in December, an increase of 21 million over September.

Daniel Zhang, chairman and chief executive officer of Alibaba Group, said the company had another very healthy quarter thanks to the rapid recovery of China’s economy.

On top of “another successful 11.11 Global Shopping Festival,” which generated record-high sales of $74.1 billion, Alibaba’s cloud computing business continues to expand market share and show strong growth and achieved positive adjusted EBITA during the quarter. Its own smart logistics network Cainiao was operating cash flow positive.

Maggie Wu, the group’s chief financial officer, said, “These progresses reflect our long-term approach to organically incubate and expand businesses from launch to profitability.”

The company offered an update on Ant Group, whose proposed dual listings and initial public offering on the Shanghai Stock Exchange STAR board and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange were blocked by Beijing on Nov. 3, allegedly due to company founder Ma’s public criticism of China’s financial regulatory system, and a subsequent anti-monopoly investigation.

Alibaba said Ant Group is in the process of developing its rectification plan and will update the market once Ant has completed the relevant regulatory procedures for the plan. It has also established a special task force with leaders to conduct internal reviews and will continue to actively communicate with China’s State Administration for Market Regulation on compliance with regulatory requirements.

Andy Halliwell, retail analyst at technology consultancy firm Publicis Sapient, said even with another strong quarter, many are looking at the business and wondering where the next wave of growth will come from.

“The business’ recent explorations of new categories such as finance or media have been met with some success, but crucially, not always. The announcement that they are shuttering [music streaming app] Xiami surprised no one after their partnership with rival offering NetEase. There are also investments in ventures like automotive and EVs, which are longer-term but look to be strong bets on this fast-growing category in China,” he said.

“In short, the business performance is strong, and many feel the shares are undervalued compared to the roadmap and trajectory of some of their businesses. However, if the Chinese government is looking to crack down on outspoken entrepreneurs and take a more conservative line with their larger tech businesses, then this will dent investors’ confidence in the brand, and may create an opening for others to exploit,” he added.

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