SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 3 December 2021, Friday |

Alibaba slashes sales outlook as competition bites, demand slows

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the Chinese e-commerce behemoth, slashed its annual revenue growth forecast due to increased competition and a regulatory crackdown, sending its stock down 11%.

Alibaba now expects revenue to rise between 20% and 23% in the fiscal year ending in March, the slowest rate since its 2014 stock market debut and down from a May forecast of 29.5 percent growth. In addition, the company missed earnings per share expectations in the second quarter.

Due to coronavirus outbreaks, Chinese shoppers have become more cautious about spending, which, combined with supply disruptions, has contributed to slower growth for China’s economy in the third quarter.

“These economic headwinds, combined with intensifying market competition, also affected our core commerce business in China,” Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said during an earnings call, adding that demand for apparel and general merchandise had been particularly impacted.

Analysts also pointed out that, while Alibaba was hurt by slower-than-expected growth in demand for fashion and accessories, its competitors fared much better in apparel sales.

At the same time, large Chinese e-commerce companies are contending with the expansion into e-commerce of short video apps like Kuaishou (1024.HK) and ByteDance’s Douyin, which are now benefiting from unprecedented regulatory efforts to ensure there is stability in the marketplace.

“We see intensified competition further eroding Alibaba’s market share and widening the revenue growth gap between Alibaba and peers,” Daiwa Capital Markets analysts wrote in a research note.

JD.com Inc (9618.HK) also reported quarterly results on Thursday, but it outperformed the market, sending its shares up 6%.

Alibaba earned 11.20 yuan per share on an adjusted basis for the quarter ended September 30, falling short of the average estimate of 12.36 yuan.

Revenue increased by 29 percent, the smallest increase in six quarters, to 200.7 billion yuan ($31.4 billion), falling just short of the Refintiv consensus estimate.

Alibaba reported single-digit growth in physical goods gross merchandise value, a key online retailing metric for the total value of merchandise sold through a marketplace, but provided no further details or comparisons to previous quarters.

Including Thursday’s losses, Alibaba’s stock has dropped 38% this year, valuing the company at around $390 billion. Its Hong Kong shares fell 10.6 percent on Friday.

Ant Group, Alibaba’s fintech affiliate, reported a quarterly profit of approximately 19.7 billion yuan for the quarter ended June, a 39 percent increase. Alibaba records Ant profit one quarter in arrears.