Retail in Asia

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Alibaba continues sales surge with 61% uptick

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Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba saw revenues surge by 61% in the fourth quarter, surpassing expectations, on the back of steady sales across its core commerce business.

For the recently ended January-to-March quarter, Alibaba revenues reached 61.9bn yuan ($9.7 billion), besting analyst estimates of a 53 percent increase.

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By segment, Alibaba’s core commerce business grew 62 percent year-on-year to 51.3 billion yuan, while its cloud computing business grew 103 percent to 4.4 billion yuan, kept afloat by international data centres.

“Alibaba Group had an excellent quarter and fiscal year, driven by robust growth in our core commerce business and investments we have made over the past several years in longer-term growth initiatives,” said Daniel Zhang, Chief Executive Officer of Alibaba Group.

“With the continuing roll out of our New Retail strategy, our e-commerce platform is developing into the leading retail infrastructure of China. During the past year we also doubled down on technology development, cloud computing, logistics, digital entertainment and local services so that we are in a position to capture consumption growth in China and other emerging markets.”

Alibaba’s net income attributable to shareholders was 7.6 billion yuan for the quarter, a drop of 29 percent, impacted by sale investments during the same quarter in 2017, the company said.

Operating margin for the quarter was 15 percent, down from 25 percent a year earlier.

For the fiscal year, revenues jumped 60 percent for twelve month ending March 31, 2019, with fiscal 2018 beating the 58 percent jump in fiscal 2017.

“Fiscal 2018 culminated with a quarter we are very proud of. Full year revenue grew 58%, core commerce revenue grew 60%, with profit growth of over 40% and annual free cash flow of US$15.8 billion,” said Maggie Wu, Chief Financial Officer of Alibaba Group.

Looking ahead to fiscal 2019, Alibaba said its expects overall revenue growth above 60%, “reflecting our confidence in our core business as well as positive momentum in new businesses,” said Wu.

China’s largest tech e-commerce company, Alibaba last quarter acquired a one-third stake in payment affiliate Ant Financial, replacing an earlier profit share agreement. Under the terms Ant was paying royalties to Alibaba equivalent to 37.5 percent of its pre-tax profits.

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“We expect our new growth initiatives will drive long-term, sustainable value for our customers and partners and increase our total addressable market,” Wu added.

Alibaba claims to have 552 million active consumers on its China retail marketplaces, for the 12-month period ended December 31, 2017.