Alibaba posts stronger-than-expected quarterly revenue, earnings as it navigates through regulatory toughening
Published: May 26, 2022 11:44 PM
Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province Photo: cnsphoto
Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province Photo: cnsphoto

Alibaba reported on Thursday stronger-than-expected revenue and earnings for the quarter ended on March 31, as the Chinese e-commerce giant navigates through the country's regulatory toughening that is intended to steer the platform economy toward a more sustainable growth.

Its revenue hit 204.05 billion yuan ($30.31 billion) for Q1, an increase of 9 percent from the year before, while its net income fell 24 percent year-on-year to 19.8 billion yuan ($2.9 billion), both beating previous estimates.

"Despite macro challenges that impacted supply chains and consumer sentiment, we continued to focus on customer value proposition and building the capabilities to deliver value," Alibaba said in a statement sent to the Global Times, citing Alibaba Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang Yong.

"We saw tangible progress across our businesses, especially in operational improvements in key strategic areas," Zhang said.

In a sign of business resilience, Alibaba disclosed on Thursday that it hit a historic milestone in the March quarter serving upwards of 1 billion annual active consumers in China, a target the company had originally set for 2024. Its annual active consumers globally hit approximately 1.31 billion for the 12 months ended March 31.

Alibaba also posted a record 8.32 trillion yuan ($1.2 trillion) in global gross merchandise volume for the fiscal year ended March 31.

Throughout the fiscal year, some 124 million annual active consumers spent more than 10,000 yuan ($1,493) apiece on Taobao and Tmall, Alibaba's two retail platforms. Roughly 98 percent of annual active consumers who forked out over 10,000 yuan on the two platforms over the previous fiscal year remained active in the past fiscal year.

A breakdown of its fiscal disclosure showed that Alibaba Cloud achieved profitability for the whole of the past fiscal year, the first time the e-commerce behemoth's cloud computing unit recorded an annual net profit in 13 years.

Buoyed by the data robustness, Alibaba's shares in US trading rallied 6 percent at opening on Thursday before swiftly notching a double-digit gain.

Also on Thursday, Chinese Internet giant Baidu's operating revenue and earnings for Q1 both topped market consensus while its monthly active users hit 632 million.

Baidu-backed video streaming platform iQIYI also recorded its first-ever quarterly profit during the first quarter.

US-traded shares of both Baidu and iQIYI surged on Thursday on the stellar earnings.

Nonetheless, Ant Group, Alibaba's keenly watched fintech offshoot, revealed a decline in operating revenue for the first quarter and throughout last year.

The fintech giant's dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong was put on halt in November 2020, as the country aimed to put its enormous platform economy on track for healthier and more regulated growth.

In the latest sign of continued management reshuffle, Alibaba's Zhang quit his role as the legal presentative and head of the corporate entities behind Taobao and Tmall, data from Chinese corporate information tracking platform Tianyancha showed in late April.

Trudy Dai Shan, one of the e-commerce giant's founding members, succeeded Zhang to head the two entities.

At an earnings conference call after the fiscal disclosure was released, Alibaba revealed that the company will not provide earnings guidance for this year, citing uncontrollable and unpredicted risks and uncertainties as its domestic businesses have taken a hit from the domestic outbreak of COVID-19 since March.