- Quarterly sales, earnings-per-share beat analyst projections
- New retail initiative will enlist half a million helpers
Even after adding $250 billion in market value, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. still manages to surprise.
China’s biggest company raised its outlook for full-year revenue growth after reporting its fastest pace of sales since its record 2014 IPO — an indicator of strong Chinese consumer spending. That sent the stock up 1.2 percent in early New York trading despite already having doubled this year, a rally that created more value for any company apart from Apple Inc.
With sales growth of 61 percent booked for the September quarter, billionaire Chairman Jack Ma is now pushing deeper into shaking up China’s 4 trillion yuan old-school retail sector. Alibaba is enlisting half a million mom-and-pop shops as part of a drive to woo customers both online and in-store as it opens its wallet to boost services to merchants on its platform. That’s on top of an avowed $30 billion spending plan for everything from artificial intelligence and cloud computing to logistics.
“They have multiple drivers of growth though, namely core e-commerce, impressive international expansion and cloud business,” said James Cordwell, a London-based analyst at Atlantic Equities LLP. “It will become more difficult for Alibaba to sustain this kind of growth, which is dependent on a Chinese economy that has been very strong.”
Cloud computing revenue doubled in the September quarter, cementing its place as one of Alibaba’s fastest-growing businesses, in direct competition with Amazon.com Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. But in the long run, it’s staking the future on its bread-and-butter operation of catering to consumers.
Alibaba’s “new retail” plan carries a simple premise — to combine its online merchants with a vast swathe of physical stores…