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Alibaba’s revenue leaps 61% as new businesses bear fruit

Much of Alibaba’s cash is flowing into China’s RM5.3t food retail and services industry (Pic: Bloomberg)

Hong Kong • Alibaba Group Holding Ltd reported its fastest pace of growth in more than four years, as the e-commerce giant’s investments in arenas from cloud computing to entertainment carved out new avenues of income.

Revenue at China’s biggest e-commerce company climbed 61% to 80.9 billion yuan (RM48.49 billion) in the three months ended June, matching the average of analysts’ estimates.

Net income slid 41% to 8.7 billion yuan, topping the 7.6 billion yuan projected after taking into account an increase in the valuation of affiliate Ant Financial Services Group, which boosted the expense of shares awarded to employees.

Alibaba’s ramping up spending in new arenas as it reduces its reliance on an online retail business facing increased competition from JD.com Inc and Pinduoduo Inc, as well as a broader economic slowdown.

It’s been busy expanding its Hema supermarket chain, acquiring food delivery network Ele.me and video streaming site Youku. But that spending is hurting mar- gins: Adjusted earnings per share came in at 8.04 yuan, short of the 8.19 yuan estimate.

Much of Alibaba’s cash is flowing into China’s US$1.3 trillion (RM5.34 trillion) food retail and services industry, where it’s trying to hold its own against delivery giant and super-app Meituan Dianping.

Alibaba said yesterday that Ele.me has raised more than US$3 billion in a new financing round led by SoftBank Group Corp. Alibaba now intends to merge Ele.me with Koubei. com, another unit focused on connecting restaurants to the Internet.

“We remain confident on the firm’s revenue growth given its diversified product offerings,” Mae Huang, an analyst at SWS Research Co said in a report. “Despite the short-term costs incurred by the firm, we believe Alibaba is building a stronger ecosystem.”

Alibaba shares were up about 4% in pre-market trade yesterday, after ending largely unchanged in New York ahead of the results. The stock has gained 3% this year compared to a 1.4% gain for the NYSE Composite Index.

Founder Jack Ma is also making an expensive foray into the US$4 trillion retail sector. Alibaba acquired a department store chain with 29 stores and 17 shopping malls last year and also bought a slice of China’s largest hypermarket chain. It’s been shelling out on content to stay abreast of Tencent Holdings Ltd and Baidu Inc in the video-streaming business.

Heavy investments in data centres for its cloud computing arm helped almost double revenue in that division to 4.7 billion yuan. — Bloomberg