Alibaba Group on Thursday reported June quarter revenue and earnings well above analyst expectations. Shares rose 3.9% in pre-market trading. Adjusted earnings were 4.90 yuan per share, on revenue of 32.15 billion yuan from 20.25 billion yuan year over year, past analyst expectations of 4.17 yuan per share and 30.17 billion yuan in revenue, according to Reuters.
The Chinese e-commerce goliath reported its highest growth rates since its 2014 initial public offering, with total revenue growing by 59% to reach 32.15 billion yuan ($4.8 billion), and Chinese-based marketplaces revenue rising 49%.
Alibaba reported 434 million annual active buyers, up 18% year over year, and mobile monthly active users rose 39% to 427 million, more than doubling mobile-based revenue, the company said. As with Amazon, Alibaba’s cloud computing unit is helping bolster results: Its base of paying customers rose to 577,000, and revenue rose 156%.
There’s been much rumbling about China’s declining growth, but Alibaba appears immune, posting strong showings in its China-based online marketplaces, Taobao and T-Mall.
“Our results show the scale and leverage of our ecosystem, as we strengthen our competitive positions in core commerce, cloud computing and digital media and entertainment,” Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said in a statement. “The acceleration of our revenue growth reflects the deep value propositions that we bring to our customers. We are changing the way our 434 million active buyers engage with our platform, as we introduce social, community and personalization driven by smart data into our e-commerce marketplaces, realizing our vision of ‘Live@Alibaba.’”
But past rosy results from Alibaba haven't been able to assuage some analyst skepticism about the company's profitability. Kynikos Associates founder Jim Chanos, for one, told CNBC in May that he’s doubtful about its cash flow and questions the company’s own metrics. "We just don't see how profitable or unprofitable that business is," he said.
Alibaba CTO Jeff Zhang earlier this week shrugged off any perceived threat from Amazon, saying he doesn't see the company as a competitor, and he's not "terribly clear on Amazon China's plans.”
That belies Amazon’s actual presence in China, not to mention the increase in Chinese sellers found on Amazon’s marketplaces. A recent survey found that some 62% of Chinese companies sell products on Amazon in the U.S. Amazon has also taken steps this month to present itself to Chinese buyers regardless of where they shop, for example launching a Chinese-language portal in Japan, where it’s expanding its assortment and cutting delivery fees.