$81 billion has been wiped off Alibaba’s shares since record high
Alibaba reports its fiscal first quarter earnings on Thursday, with analysts expecting a sharp dip in profit and pressure on margins as the Chinese giant invests in new areas of growth.
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Here’s what the market expects for the three months to the end of June:
- Revenue of 80.75 billion yuan ($11.76) billion, according to analysts surveyed by Reuters. This would represent a nearly 61 percent growth from the 50.18 billion yuan reported in the same period last year.
- Net income of 8.1 billion yuan, which would mark a 44.7 percent decline from the 14.68 billion yuan reported in the fiscal first quarter of 2017.
- Earnings per share of 2.79 yuan.
Alibaba shares have been under pressure in recent months amid a broader sell-off in Chinese stocks over concerns about the impact of the U.S.-China trade war. Shares hit a record high close of $210.86 on June 14, but have declined about 15.6 percent since. That equates to an $81.3 billion fall in market capitalization or value. The stock is still up just over 3 percent year-to-date.
Alibaba’s core commerce business, which focuses on its online shopping sites Tmall and Taobao, is still the company’s biggest unit, accounting for around 80 percent of revenues. Analysts are expecting the business to bring in 70.49 billion yuan in revenue, which would equate to 63.8 percent year-on-year growth.
The Chinese titan has tried to bolster the division by striking partnerships with big U.S. consumer brands. Earlier this month, luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co said it would begin selling products on Alibaba’s Tmall site. And Kroger said it would sell some products on Tmall as well.
Alibaba is not just an e-commerce player. It has been pushing its cloud business in recent years, and while still a small part of overall revenues, the growth as been huge. Analysts are expecting rapid growth again this quarter for the cloud business. The company has opened new data centers around the world and launched new products in key markets like Europe to try to boost market share and revenues.
Investors will be looking closely at the company’s operating margin, which dipped to 15 percent in the last quarter from 25 percent in the same period the year before. The falling margin, which could continue to remain pressured, is due to the rapid investments Alibaba is making in new areas.
Earlier this year, Alibaba increased its stake in Singapore-based online retailer Lazada. And in April, it acquired food delivery platform Ele.me for an undisclosed fee. This could weigh on margins. It will be interesting to see whether investors will be patient while Alibaba goes through this investment phase.