Alibaba said it is working on a rival to ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot that has caused excitement across the world. Alibaba said its own product is currently undergoing internal testing.
Kuang Da | Visual China Group | Getty Images
Alibaba reported earnings for its fiscal third quarter that smashed expectations, sending U.S.-listed shares soaring 4% higher.
Here’s how Alibaba did in its fiscal third quarter, which ran from October to December 2022, versus Refinitiv consensus estimates:
- Revenue: 247.76 billion Chinese yuan vs 245.18 billion Chinese yuan expected, up 2% year-on-year
- Earnings per American depositary share (ADS): 19.26 yuan vs 16.26 yuan expected, up 14% year-on-year.
- Net income: 46.82 billion yuan vs 34.02 billion yuan, up 69% year-on-year.
Around $600 billion has been wiped off the value of Alibaba since its peak in October 2020, as a tightening regulatory environment on tech firms in China along with China’s strict Covid-19 control policies, and subsequent economic slowdown, hit the e-commerce giant.
Alibaba shares in Hong Kong on Thursday closed higher ahead of earnings, as investors bet that that China’s economic re-opening will help boost consumer sentiment and spending, which will ultimately help the e-commerce giant. During the December quarter, China abruptly ended its strict Covid controls such as lockdowns. However, this is not likely to be fully reflected in the quarter as it took place in December.
Revenue from Alibaba’s biggest business, the China commerce division, which includes its popular marketplace Taobao, totaled 169.99 billion yuan, down by 1% year-on-year. The drop was driven by a 9% year-on-year decline in customer management revenue, obtained from services such as marketing that Alibaba sells to merchants on its Taobao and Tmall e-commerce platforms.
Alibaba said that gross merchandise volume — or the value of transactions across the company’s online shopping platforms — “declined mid-single-digit year-over-year, mainly due to soft consumption demand and ongoing competition as well as a surge in COVID-19 cases in China that resulted in supply chain and logistics disruptions in December.”
The company said that it sees a rebound in China’s economy and consumption.
“Looking ahead, we expect continued recovery in consumer sentiment and economic activity,” Daniel Zhange, CEO of Alibaba, said in a press release.
Amid a slowdown in its China activity, Alibaba has sought growth in overseas markets through its South East Asia business Lazada and through global e-commerce site AliExpress. International commerce revenue grew 18% year-on-year to 19.47 billion Chinese yuan.
Analysts are expecting Alibaba to see faster revenue growth over the coming quarters as the full effect of the Chinese economic re-opening is felt. Morgan Stanley named Alibaba its “top pick” in the Chinese tech sector for the first time in three years, in a recent note.
Last year, Alibaba embarked on measures to control costs in order to improve profitability. The company is trying to find a balance between costs and continuing to make important investments for long-term growth.
Those efforts are paying off with the 69% year-on-year jump in net income. The company’s operating margin stood at 14% in the December quarter, higher than the 3% reported in the same period of last year.
Alibaba managed to reduce losses across all of its business in the December quarter, including in its logistics arm Cainiao and its cloud division.
“During the past quarter, we continued to improve operating efficiency and cost optimization that resulted in robust profit growth,” Toby Xu, chief financial officer of Alibaba, said in a press release.
Meanwhile, the regulatory tightening that took place over the past two years is beginning to ease, as enforcement of regulation becomes more predictable.
The company is also trying to boost the confidence of shareholders amid its stock slump. In November, Alibaba said its board has approved an additional $15 billion as part of its existing $25 billion share buyback program which will be extended to the end of its 2025 fiscal year.
Alibaba is also in the process of making Hong Kong a “primary” listing for its shares, paving the way for mainland China investors to trade the stock directly. However, the company said in November that the process would not be completed in 2022 as it had initially been planned.
This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.