Alibaba Profit Nosedives 86% Despite Revenue Beating Estimates

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA) reported a plunge of 86% in its profits for its fourth quarter 2023. This plunge was largely attributed to changes in the valuations of the equities in which it invested. Because of this dip in profit, the shares of the company slumped by nearly 6% on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), where the company is primarily listed.

It should be noted that the Q4 revenue exceeded estimates, though this didn’t stop share prices from slipping.

The company also revealed that it was going to act on its 2022 plan to upgrade its listing in Hong Kong. Alibaba is currently listed in Hong Kong as a secondary listing. Company officials want to change that to a primary listing, meaning the company will have two primary listings: the current listing in New York and the planned Hong Kong upgrade. August is the target date to complete this upgrade.

Alibaba, commanding the largest market share of all ecommerce companies in China, has had a rollercoaster year since early 2023 when it decided to partition into half a dozen distinct units. Domestic sales have also taken a beating due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the downturn in the housing sector of the country.

Realizing that consumers had become cautious about their spending, Alibaba shifted to low-cost products to appeal to cost-sensitive consumers. The gambit paid off, and the low-cost products sold by the company helped to generate 7% revenue growth in the quarter, which ended in March.

Joe Tsai, the chairman of Alibaba Group, revealed during a call after the earnings report that the group was observing some early signs that confidence in the Chinese economy was returning. He explained that product lines such as electronics and apparel had registered an uptick in sales, a sign of reviving willingness by consumers to spend. Tsai said consumers were beginning to be more confident about the economy’s future.

Analysts had expected the international online sales of Alibaba to be strong drivers of growth. This segment didn’t disappoint as it grew by 45%. That growth triggered a 39% growth of revenue for the group. However, the segment saw higher net losses due investments geared at reducing how long it took to deliver products to consumers, as well as remaining price competitive.

The cloud division of the company also saw revenue from artificial intelligence services grow by triple digits. The AI services are a new offering, and its customers are largely outside the group.

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