Operating leverage.

Get used to hearing those words a lot when you examine earnings at Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The term pops up six times in the company’s June quarter press release and helps explain how the Chinese e-commerce provider managed to post income growth that surpassed the pace of revenue expansion.

Across all line items — product development, sales and marketing, general and admin, and share-based compensation — Alibaba trimmed costs as a proportion of revenue. This shows the incredible economies of scale Jack Ma has built at the company, including his success in moving to mobile to extract more from consumers.

It is also evidence that his empire is reliant more than ever on core commerce amidst a 45 percent increase in spending on new businesses such…