JD.com is growing — and changing — fast, but it still might not be moving quick enough for some on Wall Street.
The company reported third-quarter earnings Monday with total revenue of 104.8 billion Chinese yuan for the quarter ending Sept. 30. That’s about $15 billion, or an increased of 25.1 percent year-over-year. Income tripled, to 3 billion yuan from 1 billion yuan.
“We are pleased to report solid results for the third quarter, with our core JD Mall business driving consistent growth under its highly experienced management team,” said Richard Liu, chairman and chief executive officer of JD. “Our ‘Retail as a Service’ strategy is also gaining traction as we provide a wide range of partners with innovative retail infrastructure solutions.”
The company’s approach and its growth clearly has made some believers. MKM Partners rated the stock a buy and set a price target of $41 — nearly double the current price.
Yet some investors aren’t so certain. The stock fell more than 6 percent during Monday’s morning trading session, to less than $22 a share. The Chinese economy has been slowing lately, putting more pressure on JD. And some market watchers are concerned JD is slipping as it continues to fight for online shoppers against its giant e-commerce competitor, Alibaba.
During a conference call with analysts, JD executives talked about this year’s heavy investments into the business, including warehousing build-outs and IT infrastructure, which are expected to pay off next year.
JD is China’s second largest e-commerce company behind Alibaba — and although the two are in the midst of a pitched battle for market share, JD is clearly willing to jump into an idea that works, including Singles’ Day, the shopping festival started by Alibaba that has become something like Black Friday in China.
JD rang up 159.8 billion yuan, or $23 billion, in sales on Singles’ Day this year.
Throughout the quarter, JD continued to attract more brands, including L’Occitane de Provence, House 99 and Hera, the South Korean beauty brand, as well as fashion labels Salvatore Ferragamo and Furla. Names such as John Galliano, Buccellati and Shang Xia can now be found on JD’s Toplife, the company’s luxury platform.
And in August, Walmart and JD partnered to invest $500 million in Dada-JD Daojia, a Chinese online delivery company.
“In a nutshell, next year, we will grow much higher than the investor average and we will improve on our gross profit and also net profit,” said Xuande Huang, JD’s chief financial officer, during the call.
Revenue growth in the quarter was also at its slowest since the company went public in 2014. The top line expansion was impacted by sales of large ticket electronics and appliances during the quarter.
And the September arrest of JD’s founder and chairman Liu Qiangdong in Minneapolis over suspicions of sexual assault — charges he denied — also hasn’t done much to tame investors fears.
Still, the seemingly unwavering enthusiasm among Chinese consumers might be too strong to cause lasting problems to JD.
“Until there are either events that improve sentiment or confirm fears, company-specific factors will matter little for the stocks,” according to an analysis from MKM Partners.
JD expects fourth-quarter revenue to grow at a rate of 18 to 23 percent, out stripping the pace from a year earlier.