Retail in Asia

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Alibaba sales beat estimates, plans $6m share buyback

Alibaba growth news - Retail in Asia

Alibaba Group’s first-quarter revenues surpassed industry estimates for the three-month period ending March, as the Chinese e-commerce giant witnessed strong growth in new business lines beyond online shopping.

Total revenues for the last quarter reached 38.6 billion yuan (US$5.6bil), well above an average forecast of 36 billion yuan according to Thomson Reuters.

“Our revenue base is now more diversified,” chief financial officer Maggie Wu said. The finance head added that Alibaba’s cloud and entertainment sectors became “more meaningful growth drivers” during the quarter.

Despite the sales high, earnings fell flat for the three months, with profits adversely affected by tax increases after the expiration of a local tax reduction linked to Alibaba’s investment in Chinese electronics retailer Suning Commerce Group Co Ltd.

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Alibaba’s adjusted earnings per share (EPS), therefore, came in at 4.35 yuan (US$0.63), below estimates of 4.48 yuan.

Coinciding with the results, Alibaba announced plans to buy back shares worth up to US$6bil over two years.

The operator of online market place Tmall and financial payments system Alipay said the share repurchase scheme would replace its existing buyback program.

For the last few years, Alibaba has been targeting news business lines such as cloud computing, big data, entertainment and offline retail as it expands beyond e-commerce.

However, online shopping remains the firm’s bread and butter. In March, Alibaba said it plans to open a regional distribution hub in Malaysia to cater to its fast-growing business in the region. It also launched its Alipay business in the Asian nation last week, following a debut in the US earlier in the year.