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Alibaba's share price unsteady on mixed results

20 May 2017, 09:13 | Melvin Schneider

Shares were off almost 3% in early trading

Alibaba

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s earnings lagged estimates after it swallowed a higher tax bill and splurged on the entertainment and cloud computing businesses that're fueling revenue growth.

The company said Thursday that net income attributable to ordinary shareholders for the fiscal fourth quarter ended March 31 was 10.65 billion yuan, or $1.55 billion, almost double the amount from the like quarter one year ago.

Net income attributable to shareholders rose to 10.65 billion yuan, or 60 cents per share, from 5.37 billion yuan in the year-earlier quarter.

This is up by 60 percent when compared with the same period previous year; which saw a quarterly profit of US$2.4 billion, Xinhua News Agency reported. Adjusted earnings were 63 cents per share, versus the FactSet consensus forecast of 65 cents, according to MarketWatch.

Its CEO Daniel Zhang said: "Our core commerce segment continued its significant growth and strong cash flow at large scale, enabling our aggressive investment in cloud computing [and] digital media and entertainment to drive the digital transformation of the economy and high-quality consumption across China".

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"The March quarter is usually a slow season for e-commerce so margins usually come down a bit", Ray Zhao, a Shenzhen-based analyst at Guotai Junan Securities Co., told Bloomberg. That is helping fuel billionaire founder Jack Ma's global expansion plan, which includes helping a million American businesses tap Chinese consumers, buying control of South-east Asian start-up Lazada Group, and reaching foreign shoppers through AliExpress. The firm's cloud business has seen huge growth - in the fourth quarter revenue jumped 103 per cent to 2.2bn yuan. Alibaba acquired online video streaming platform Youku Tudou in November 2015 and Singaporean e-commerce giant Lazada in April 2016, which drove Digital Media and International Retail Commerce revenues, respectively. Up to 507 million customers used Alibaba's China retail platforms on their smartphones in March, an increase of 14 million from December.

Income tax expenses soared 149 per cent to 4.6 billion yuan in the March quarter.

Alibaba has been making large investments into its digital media and entertainment businesses to compete with Tencent and Baidu Inc for a share of the digital content market.

"Our robust results demonstrate the strength of our core businesses, as well as the positive momentum of our emerging businesses", said Maggie Wu, the firm's chief financial officer.



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