Alibaba’s Strong Finish to the Fiscal Year

By Julian Thumm | 06 May 2016

Alibaba’s Q4 results show a strong finish to its fiscal year, with revenue up nearly 40 percent year-on-year, despite the slowdown in the Chinese economy.

Alibaba announced its Q4 results yesterday, with the Chinese e-commerce giant reporting 39 percent year-on-year revenue growth. Revenue rose to RMB 24.2 billion (nearly AU$5 billion), with marketplace revenue rising 41 percent year-on-year to RMB 18.3 billion ($3.8 billion).

Annual active buyers on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces increased to 423 million, an increase of 16 million over the previous quarter, with mobile app users reaching 410 million, growing by 17 million over the December quarter.

Gross merchandise volume (GMV) transacted on its China retail marketplaces reached RMB 742 billion ($152.7 billion), representing 24 percent year-on-year growth. Mobile GMV accounted for 73 percent of total GMV.

As with Amazon, Alibaba’s cloud computing division was a strong growth driver, with division revenue growing 175 percent year-on-year, to RMB 1.7 billion ($350 million). Over the quarter, AliCloud launched 612 new features and services and 22 new products.

“Alibaba Group finished the fiscal year on a very strong note. In March we surpassed RMB 3 trillion in annual GMV and our revenue for the year was over RMB 100 billion. We achieved strong growth in mobile users, active buyers and transactions,” said Daniel Zhang, Chief Executive Officer of Alibaba Group.

Despite the strong revenue results, net income shrank 1.4 percent as the company invested heavily in new business.

Over the quarter, Alibaba continued to engage international brands, with more than 100 new international brands and retailers joining the Tmall Global platform. Over the period, Tmall’s GMV grew 180 percent year-on-year.

“We will continue to build the cross-border linkages to our ecosystem that provide international brands and merchants access to the Chinese consumer market,” the company said.

While still working to expand its local market, particularly in rural China, Alibaba has been significantly expanding its overseas presence over the past year. Last month, the company acquired a US$1 billion controlling stake in Southeast Asian e-commerce platform Lazada.

It also expanded its European presence late last year, and most recently announced that it will open an Australian office later this year.

Despite the strong results, some commentators question Alibaba’s financial metrics. Jim Chanos, founder of Kynikos Associates, told CNBC: “We just don’t see how profitable or unprofitable that business is,” adding that he suspects Alibaba is unprofitable.

While the company has very loudly and publicly taking a zero tolerance stance against counterfeiting across its platforms, many believe that beneath the bluster, Alibaba has no real interest in addressing its counterfeit problems.


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