Alibaba quarterly revenue rises 32% on strong holiday sales

Alibaba quarterly revenue rises 32% on strong holiday sales

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba's third-quarter revenue rose 32 per cent, beating analysts' average estimate, helped by strong holiday sales.

Alibaba's US-listed shares were down about 1 per cent Thursday. Oppenheimer's Internet analyst Jason Helfstein told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that the stock is moving down on concerns about the yuan.

"It was a revenue and EPS beat, but the issue is that they got there on a higher take rate. The gross merchandise value in local currency is slowing. The growth rate has basically been cut in half versus a year ago," said Helfstein.

"I think investors were looking for some more metrics around the stability of the business given concerns about the macro economy in China," Helfstein added.

RBC Capital Markets' lead Internet analyst, Mark Mahaney, told "Squawk on the Street" that he remains bullish on the stock despite concerns about China's economy.

"I think the real key here is mobile monetisation levels are really gapping up, and that's the new growth engine for Alibaba," Mahaney said. However, he said overarching China concerns will continue to weigh on the stock.

"Even with the better-than-expected numbers, people may not want to make an aggressive bet on China right now," Mahaney added.

Gross merchandise volume, or the total value of goods transacted on its platforms on China retail marketplaces, rose 23 per cent to 964 billion yuan (S$209 billion), its slowest annual growth rate in more than three years.

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Alibaba is trying to replace decelerating volume growth in online shopping by expanding in other areas.

It offered US$3.7 billion (S$5.27 billion) to become sole owner of Youku Tudou, known as China's YouTube. Online video users in the country are beginning to cough up money for high-quality online streaming services.

But the majority of Alibaba's revenue still comes from China's online shoppers buying from domestic businesses, a business driven by growth in GMV.

Net income attributable to shareholders reached $1.93 billion, or 76 cents per share. Excluding items, Alibaba earned 99 cents per share.

Revenue rose to 34.53 billion yuan in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with the average analyst estimate of 33.33 billion yuan, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Alibaba competes with smaller rival JD.com, which has focused on more affluent shoppers in China's biggest cities, a strategy that may be paying off in an economy that last year grew at its weakest pace in a quarter of a century.

While the two companies calculate the total value of goods sold, or GMV, differently, JD.com's GMV grew 82 per cent in the nine months to September while Alibaba's rose 34 per cent, suggesting China's biggest e-tailer was losing market share.

Alibaba Chief Executive Daniel Zhang said this month that the company will pivot toward "first-tier" cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, after having trumpeted a push into China's countryside, as well as abroad.

- CNBC's Christine Wang and Reuters contributed to this report.

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