Why Alibaba Earnings Are a Huge Win

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Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) reported its fiscal first-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Thursday. Overall in this report, the Chinese giant strengthened its competitive positions in core commerce, cloud computing and digital media. Even looking forward, Alibaba has plans to introduce social, community and personalization, driven by smart data, into its e-commerce marketplaces. This report signals continued growth for the company, and coupled with the past six months of performance, Alibaba is up nearly 50%.

The company said that it had $0.74 in earnings per share (EPS) on $4.84 billion in revenue for the quarter. Consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters had called for $0.63 in EPS on revenue of $4.54 billion. According to Alibaba, the same period of last year had EPS of $0.56 and $3.04 billion in revenue.

Mobile monthly active users (MAUs) in June reached 427 million, an increase of 17 million over March 2016, while annual active buyers on Chinese retail marketplaces increased to 434 million, a net addition of 11 million annual active buyers from the prior quarter.

Gross merchandise value (GMV) transacted on Chinese retail marketplaces was $126 billion, an increase of $25 billion, or 24% from last year, with mobile GMV accounting for 75% of total GMV.

The cloud computing business continued its rapid expansion, with revenue in this quarter increasing 156% from last year to $187 million.

Maggie Wu, chief financial officer of Alibaba, commented:

We delivered excellent results this quarter. The 59% revenue growth for the company overall and the 49% revenue growth of our China retail marketplaces represent the highest growth rates we’ve achieved since our IPO. We passed an important milestone this quarter in achieving higher monetization of mobile users than non-mobile users for the first time, reflecting the success of our strategy to stay ahead of the curve by embracing mobile. As we demonstrate from our segmental disclosure, our results reflect the unrivaled strength of our core commerce business, as well as the accelerating traction we are seeing from our cloud computing and digital media and entertainment businesses.

In the June quarter, the company generated $1.92 billion in free cash flow. At the same time, Alibaba repurchased 27 million of its shares for roughly $2 billion.

Shares of Alibaba closed Wednesday up 2.5% at $87.33, with a consensus analyst price target of $97.56 and a 52-week trading range of $57.20 to $87.73. Following the release of the earnings report, the stock was up nearly 5% at $91.34 in early trading indications Thursday.