Given Alibaba’s trading action Thursday, one could compare the near $300 billion powerhouse to a charging rhino that stumbles then quickly resumes its gallop.
Alibaba (ticker: BABA) shares reached an all-time high Tuesday of $124.34, but mixed fiscal fourth-quarter results caused shares to tumble early Thursday before closing the session higher at $121.27. We expect that the stock can build on these gains and establish new highs this year.
Alibaba said it earned 63 cents a share, below the 66 cents per share that analysts were expecting. However, the Chinese e-commerce giant’s revenue surged 60% to $5.6 billion, easily topping the $5.2 billion consensus estimate.
Alibaba’s strong sales were evident in all four of its main divisions. Revenue at its core commerce division jumped 47% year over year to $4.5 billion, while sales at cloud computing, and at digital media and entertainment divisions soared 103% and 234%, respectively. Revenue at its innovation initiatives climbed 88%.
The popularity of shopping online among Chinese consumers shows little sign of slowing down: Alibaba added 11 million annual active buyers for a total of 454 million, while monthly active users on its mobile retail platform rose by 14 million, to 507 million at the end of last year.
Yet Alibaba offers much more than just online shopping.
Much like Amazon.com (AMZN), Alibaba has also pushed into cloud computing where paying customers grew to 874,000 from 765,000 quarter over quarter. Ultimately, the cloud could be a $20 billion opportunity for Alibaba if it’s the biggest market share gainer between now and 2020, as some analysts expect: Revenue could climb from $1 billion in 2016 by $10 billion, making it the fifth largest player in the sector behind heavyweights like Amazon and Microsoft (MSFT). Moreover, Alibaba’s huge trove of data makes it all the more valuable as it pushes beyond commerce to a more fully developed ecosystem.
Elsewhere, the financial technology industry in China is growing aggressively, and Alibaba and Tencent (TCEHY) look poised to grab most of what JPMorgan thinks could reach $65 billion in sales by 2020.
Alibaba fetches more than 27 times forward earnings, but given the company’s growth profile, its valuation is attractive (and Amazon still costs three times as much on a forward P/E basis). Analysts expect Alibaba’s earnings per share will jump more than 40% this year, and the company’s board just authorized a $6 billion share repurchase plan.
While gloom surrounded emerging markets earlier this year, investors may be waking up to the opportunity in emerging markets stocks. Alibaba is more than 30% higher so far this year and has an excellent chance of rising further.