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Alibaba Shares Hit Record Low After Earnings Miss

China's e-commerce giant sees its slowest revenue growth in more than three years.

Alibaba’s shares skidded to a record low in New York on Wednesday after China’s biggest e-commerce company posted its slowest revenue growth in over three years.

The shares fell as much as 7.9 percent in the opening minutes of trading and the number of shares exchanged was already more than 85 percent of their full-day average.

The share price has now dropped by nearly a third since the beginning of the year.

As well as missing revenue forecasts, Alibaba announced a $4 billion share repurchase program over two years, which it said was primarily aimed at offsetting the impact of the company’s share-based compensation programs and other factors that could dilute the share price.

China’s economy is expected this year to see its slowest growth for a quarter of a century. Alibaba’s Chief Executive Daniel Zhang told CNBC on Wednesday that the company was closely monitoring the economy but was “confident for long-term growth.”

In a bid to stem slowing growth in both revenue and the value of sales over its websites, Alibaba is now branching out from its core online-only shopping platforms.

Its revenue for the three months through June rose 28 percent to $3.27 billion, well below a forecast of $3.39 billion in a Thomson Reuters SmartEstimate poll of 28 analysts.

The drop in revenue growth came as gross merchandise volume — the total value of goods transacted across Alibaba’s platforms — rose 34 percent to 673 billion yuan ($105 billion), also the slowest growth in more than three years.

“(We) made significant progress monetizing our mobile traffic, with our mobile revenue exceeding 50 percent of our total China commerce retail revenue for the first time,” Maggie Wu, Alibaba’s chief financial officer, said in a statement.

But Wu conceded that mobile was still less profitable than business via personal computers, where profitability also decreased.

Alibaba’s strategic priorities are internationalization, beating the competition in mobile, expanding into rural China and investing in cloud computing, Chief Executive Zhang said in Wednesday’s statement.

The company announced on Monday that it would invest $4.6 billion in leading Chinese electronics retailer Suning Commerce Group, its biggest step yet toward integrating online and store-based shopping. The deal could give Alibaba more traction in logistics and electronics, areas in which expanding rival, China’s second-biggest e-commerce site by sales, specializes.

Alibaba’s non-GAAP net income rose 30 percent from a year earlier to $1.5 billion for the three months through June, the first quarter of its fiscal year.

(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Additional reporting by Vikram Subhedar in LONDON; Editing by Mark Potter and Susan Fenton)

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