Home Business Alibaba (BABA) Q3 2023 earnings report for December quarter

Alibaba (BABA) Q3 2023 earnings report for December quarter

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Alibaba is operating in Suqian City, Jiangsu Province, China, on December 29, 2023.

Costfoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Shares of Alibaba initially whipsawed in premarket trade on Wednesday, as the company missed market expectations for revenue in the December quarter, but announced it is increasing the size of its share buyback program by $25 billion.

U.S.-listed shares in the Chinese e-commerce giant were are one point more than 5% higher in pre-market trade, veering between positive and negative territory.

Alibaba said the $25 billion increase is added to its share repurchase program through the end of March 2027, bringing the total available under the scheme to $35.3 billion.

The company said in a statement that the increased buyback shows the “confidence in the outlook of our business and cash flow.”

The announcement comes after a tumultuous year for Alibaba in 2023, when the company carried out its largest-ever corporate structure overhaul. It also separately implemented several high-profile management changes, with company veteran Eddie Wu taking over the reins as chief executive in September.

Alibaba on Wednesday released financial results for its December quarter.

Here’s how Alibaba did in its fiscal third quarter, compared to LSEG estimates:

  • Revenue: 260.35 billion Chinese yuan ($36.6 billion) versus 262.07 billion yuan expected.

Revenue missed expectations, growing just 5% year-over-year, logging a slowdown from the previous quarters as growth in the company’s China e-commerce business and cloud computing division remained slow.

Meanwhile, Alibaba’s net income in the December quarter fell 69% year-on-year to 14.4 billon Chinese yuan. The company said this was “primarily attributable to mark-to-market changes” to its equity investments and to a decrease in income from operations due to impairments related to its video streaming service Youku and supermarket chain Sun Art.

China e-commerce, cloud business slow

Alibaba has been grappling with a difficult macroeconomic environment in China, where the consumer has remained weak, even after Beijing removed its Covid-era restrictions. Amid economic uncertainties, local shoppers have flocked to discounting platforms such as Alibaba rival Pinduoduo.

The Taobao and Tmall business, Alibaba’s China e-commerce platforms, brought in revenue of 129.1 billion Chinese yuan in the December quarter, up just 2% year-on-year.

Alibaba’s cloud computing business, which investors have seen as critical to the tech giant’s future growth, brought in sales of 28.1 billion yuan, a 3% year-on-year rise.

In a statement, recently-appointed Alibaba CEO Eddie Wu said the company’s focus is on growth in e-commerce and cloud.

“Our top priority is to reignite the growth of our core businesses, e-commerce and cloud computing. We will step up investment to improve users’ core experiences to drive growth in Taobao and Tmall Group and strengthen market leadership in the coming year.”

Earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization (EBITA), a measure of profitability, rose 1% at the Taobao and Tmall business for the fiscal third quarter.

For the cloud computing business, EBITA rose 86% year-on-year as Alibaba focuses on profitability.

One bright spot in Alibaba’s numbers was the international commerce business, which includes platforms like AliExpress and Lazada, which posted revenue of 28.5 billion yuan, up 44% year-on-year.

Alibaba’s reorganization

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