Alibaba quarterly revenue misses expectations as spending slows

Alibaba has had to contend with stiff competition from the likes of Pinduoduo and ByteDance’s Douyin. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI - Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd posted a smaller-than-expected rise in quarterly revenue on Thursday as Covid-19 curbs and a worsening economic outlook stifled consumer spending.

Retail spending in China has sagged this year alongside the government’s strict zero-Covid policies that have led to frequent snap lockdowns and hurt economic activity.

Alibaba has also had to contend with stiff competition from the likes of Pinduoduo and ByteDance’s Douyin - the Chinese version of Tiktok - which have expanded their e-commerce offerings and taken more market share.

The company has also yet to fully recover from a regulatory crackdown on the tech sector that has curtailed growth opportunities.

Revenue grew 3 per cent to 207.18 billion yuan (S$39.8 billion) in the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with a Refinitiv consensus estimate of 208.62 billion yuan drawn from 25 analysts.

Alibaba, which runs China’s largest online marketplaces Tmall and Taobao and owns a wide range of businesses from logistics to cloud services, reported net loss attributable to shareholders of 20.56 billion yuan in the quarter.

Excluding one-off items, Alibaba earned 12.92 yuan per American Depository Share.

The current quarter has also been gloomy. Last week, the firm did not disclose its “Singles Day” shopping festival sales tally for the first time, saying only that the results were in line with last year, which was its lowest ever growth.

Alibaba’s financial affiliate, Ant Group, is still undergoing a government-mandated revamp and has yet to revive plans for its public market debut after its $37 billion attempt at a dual listing was derailed at the last minute in late 2020.

Ant, which is 33 per cent owned by Alibaba, logged a profit of 7.72 billion yuan for the quarter ending in June, down 63.2 per cent year-on-year. Alibaba reports its profit from Ant group one quarter in arrears.

The company said in its earnings release it would raise its share repurchase program by an additional US$15 billion and extend it to the end of the 2025 fiscal year.

Under the existing US$25 billion share repurchase program, the company said it had repurchased approximately US$18 billion in shares by November 16.

Alibaba said it will not complete its primary conversion of shares to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange by the end of 2022 as originally announced in August. REUTERS

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