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What’s Shifting Alibaba’s Shares Downward?

Plus500 | Thursday 08 February 2024

Chinese tech behemoth Alibaba (BABA) has been making less-than-rosy headlines lately as a plethora of factors pushed its stock price downward. 

Here’s what you need to know about the company’s latest moves:

An illustration of Chinese AI chips

Alibaba’s Lackluster Earnings Report 

On Wednesday, February 7, Alibaba reported its quarterly earnings, revealing that it fell short of analysts’ expectations.

While certain analysts anticipated earnings of 2.39 yuan per share alongside revenue totaling 260.7 billion yuan, the company disclosed earnings of 2.37 Chinese yuan per share (about 33 cents) on revenue amounting to 260.3 billion yuan ($36.6 billion). The company’s quarterly net income also slid by 69% YoY.

Moreover,  the company’s earnings per share slid by 2% YoY, while its revenue rose by 5%, down 77% YoY.

As such, given the underwhelming results, BABA’s stock price fell by 5.9% on Wednesday after the release.

Why Is Alibaba Underperforming?

It appears that the recent economic difficulties in the world's second-largest economy have taken a toll on the tech giant’s performance. A combination of weaker retail performance and economic challenges has materialized. 

Furthermore, tensions between the US and China have impacted the company's valuation, with the US imposing restrictions on Chinese technology, particularly Artificial intelligence (AI) chips. 

Additionally, it may be worth noting that these drops come against the backdrop of a turbulent year for Alibaba.

Last year, the company underwent its most extensive corporate restructuring to date and witnessed significant management changes, including the appointment of Eddie Wu as chief executive in September 2023.

Evidently, and perhaps unsurprisingly, from the beginning of 2023 until the time of writing, Alibaba has plunged by 19.9%.

Alibaba price chart on 08022024

What Took the Hardest Hit?

Alibaba's weakest segments were its cloud computing and e-commerce divisions, both of which are primary revenue streams. The cloud segment is considered by many investors to be “critical to the tech giant's future growth.”

According to a recent statement by CEO, Wu, the company’s “top priority is to reignite the growth of our core businesses, e-commerce and cloud computing.”

Therefore, it will be worth keeping tabs on the company’s plans in the near future to see how it might tackle the hurdles and redeem itself from the weak performance.

Finally, the company is also facing rising competition from more affordable competitors like PDD Holdings as more Chinese consumers opt for cost-saving measures as the economy recovers from its COVID-19 woes. 

Failed Share Buyback

Share buybacks occur when companies repurchase their shares from the open market. While such events may have drawbacks, they can potentially reward companies by boosting shareholder value by reducing the number of outstanding shares and increasing earnings per share (EPS).

As such, it may be surprising to learn that despite Alibaba's share buyback program and the announcement of a $25 billion increase, weak performance and results persist. 

Nonetheless, in spite of the weak performance, Alibaba stated that this increase will benefit shareholders by the end of March 2027, citing confidence in the outlook of their business and cash flow. (Source: CNBC)

It’s Not All Gloomy

In the face of the hurdles mentioned above, it's crucial to note that Alibaba's International Digital Commerce segment has reported robust growth, with AliExpress and Alibaba.com continuing to perform well, surging by 60% YoY.

Conclusion

In conclusion, a combination of factors, from China’s weakening economy to increasing competition, and the US-China technology war, appear to have significantly strained Alibaba. 

Nevertheless, despite these setbacks, the company seems steadfast in its commitment to shareholders through its share buyback program and confidence in future prospects.

Only time will tell what the future holds for the tech behemoth.


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