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Alibaba Beats Sales Estimates for Inaugural Earnings Quarter

In its first earnings report as a public company, the Chinese e-commerce company exceeds expectations.

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Alibaba beat sales estimates for its first earnings report as a public company.

The giant Chinese e-commerce company recorded earnings of 45 cents per share on revenue of $2.74 billion in the September quarter. Analysts were expecting on average earnings per share of 45 cents on $2.64 billion in revenue. Net profit, meanwhile, fell 39 percent to $485 million. The shares were up about three percent in early trading.

The report comes a month and a half after Alibaba went public on the New York Stock Exchange by raising $25 billion in the largest-ever IPO. Alibaba’s stock price closed on Monday at nearly $102 a share, a 10 percent increase since it started trading in September at a price of $92.70.

At that price, Alibaba is valued at $246 billion, easily eclipsing the combined market values of Amazon and eBay, which both bring in more revenue than their Chinese counterpart. But Alibaba is more profitable; sports revenue there is growing much faster, and has a stronghold in an e-commerce market in China that still has a ton of room for growth. (These three charts depict the comparison well.)

Alibaba brings in the majority of its revenue from its two giant online marketplaces, Taobao and Tmall. Taobao is the home to smaller Chinese merchants who pay Alibaba to advertise their wares on the site, but are not charged listing fees or commissions. Tmall, on the other hand, is home to online storefronts from giant international brands such as Nike and Apple that typically pay Alibaba a cut of each sale they make on the marketplace.

In the U.S., Alibaba has become the focus of much intrigue as U.S.-based competitors are attempting to gauge how aggressive the company will be in courting American shoppers. Founder and chairman Jack Ma has thus far said his company’s top priority in the U.S. is to help American merchants sell their goods to Chinese consumers. But industry execs wonder if Alibaba is just playing coy. The company has incubated a new American online marketplace called 11 Main and has been on an investing spree over the last year, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into American startups such as Shoprunner, Peel, Lyft, Tango and Kabam as it eyes expansion into other industries such as media, messaging and gaming.

For the current quarter, analysts are projecting earnings per share of 76 cents on $4.41 billion in sales.

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