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China's Alibaba quarterly revenue surges 54% to 53.25b yuan

[BEIJING] Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said Tuesday its revenues leapt 54 per cent year-on-year for the quarter ended in December, spurred by rapid growth in Chinese online shopping.

Revenue for the company, seen as a benchmark for China's increasingly crucial consumer sector, reached 53.25 billion yuan (S$11 billion) in the quarter, it said in a statement.

Its net income attributable to ordinary shareholders was 17.9 billion yuan in the quarter, up 43 per cent over the same period the previous year.

The result "demonstrates the strength of the Chinese consumer and Alibaba's ability to create value across our vast ecosystem", said Daniel Zhang, chief executive officer of Alibaba Group.

Alibaba is China's dominant player in online commerce, with its Taobao platform estimated to hold more than 90 per cent of the consumer-to-consumer market. Its Tmall platform is believed to handle over half of business-to-consumer transactions.

But China's largest online shopping portal has been on the defensive since the office of the US Trade Representative put Taobao on its annual blacklist in December, saying it was not doing enough to curb sales of fake and pirated goods.

Although inclusion on the blacklist carries no penalties in itself, it dealt a blow to Alibaba's efforts to improve its image and boost international sales.

In January the company's billionaire founder Jack Ma met Donald Trump and made a bold pledge to create one million jobs in the US, a move which analysts said was intended to win goodwill and hedge against political risks.

The company, often compared to eBay or Amazon of the United States, has expanded outside its core e-commerce business into sectors ranging from sports to entertainment.

Revenue from digital media and entertainment jumped 273 per cent to US$585 million due to increasing earnings from mobile services such as news feeds and game publishing and consolidating its management team, it said.

In October Alibaba Pictures took a minority shareholding in Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners, a film creation company that includes DreamWorks studios.

Sales in Alibaba's core commerce unit rose 45 per cent year-on-year to US$6.7 billion.

The number of mobile users grew 25 per cent year-on-year to 493 million.

Its cloud computing segment more than doubled in revenue over last year, with paying customers growing by more than 100,000 since the previous quarter, according to the statement.

Alibaba raised its revenue guidance for the 2017 fiscal year to growth of 53 per cent year-on-year, from 48 per cent, chief financial officer Maggie Wu said.

With US$4.9 billion in cash flow the company will "continue investing in growth areas globally, including cloud computing, digital media and entertainment and innovation initiatives", she added.


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