Alibaba quarterly profits almost double to 10.65b yuan

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.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd reported fourth-quarter revenue above analysts' expectations on Thursday, helped by strength in the Chinese e-commerce market.

Alibaba also announced a new $6 billion stock buyback authorization, after having repurchased $2 billion worth of shares (mostly from top investor SoftBank) in fiscal 2017.

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

Meanwhile net income attributable to shareholders rose to 10.6 billion yuan, up 98 percent from 5.4 billion yuan in the year-earlier quarter.

Alibaba, often compared to eBay or Amazon of the United States, has been expanding outside its core e-commerce business into sectors ranging from sports to entertainment.

Adjusted earnings per share was 4.35 yuan in the first quarter, missing analysts' estimates of 4.51 yuan per share.

"The traditional thinking that pits e-commerce against physical commerce no longer holds", said Alibaba's co-founder and executive vice chairman Joseph Tsai Chung-hsin. The online retail sites added 31 million active users for the year to reach 454 million, while its English site AliExpress and Southeast Asian e-commerce operator Lazada had a combined annual active buyer base of 83 million. "The potential levering up of the Chinese consumer-especially among the younger Chinese population-will provide a powerful driver of consumption for many years into the future". It closed the year with a loss of 1.68 billion yuan (US$244 million), improving on last year's operating loss of 2.61 billion yuan (US$378.1 million).

Alibaba's American depositary shares fell 2.8% to $117.35 in morning trading in NY, but are still up 33% this year. Up to 507 million customers used Alibaba's China retail platforms on their smartphones in March, an increase of 14 million from December.

Alibaba also saw its cloud computing revenue climb 121 percent to US$968 million for the fiscal year, where its paying customer base grew 70 percent to 874,000.

Revenue from digital media and entertainment more than tripled while revenue from "innovation initiatives", including Alibaba's YunOS mobile operating system, were up 88%.

"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.

  • Zachary Reyes