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Alibaba Tops Q4 Earnings Forecast, Sees $91 Billion in 2021 Sales

Alibaba said gross merchandise value across its 'digital economy' passed the $1 trillion mark this year, a record for Asia's most valuable tech company.

Alibaba Group Holding Co.  (BABA)  posted stronger-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Friday, as China's months-long lockdown boosted online sales for Asia's most valuable tech company.    

Alibaba said diluted non-GAAP earnings for the three months ending in March, the company's fiscal third quarter, were pegged at $1.30 per share, topping Wall Street's estimate of around 86 cents per share. Group revenues, Alibaba said, rose 22% from last year to $16.144 billion, again topping analysts' estimates of a $15.28 billion tally. Cloud computing revenues, Alibaba said, rose 58% to a record $1.725 billion. 

Looking into the 2021 financial year, Alibaba said it sees revenues in the region of 650 billion Chinese yuan ($91 billion) .

“Our overall business continued to experience strong growth, with a total annual active consumer base of 960 million globally, despite concluding the fiscal year with a quarter impacted by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic," said CEO Daniel Zhang. "The pandemic has fundamentally altered consumer behavior and enterprise operations, making digital adoption and transformation a necessity."

"We are well positioned and prepared to help large and small businesses across a wide spectrum of industries achieve the digital transformation they need to survive this difficult period and eventually prevail in the new normal," he added. "By focusing on the long term and investing in value creation for our consumers and business customers, we believe we will emerge from this crisis stronger and be ready to capture more growth in the future.”  

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Alibaba's U.S.-listed shares were down 4.19% at $203.28 in trading on Friday.

U.S.-listed shares of China-based companies have fallen for each of the last three days after Senate lawmakers passed the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, a bill that would require non-U.S. companies listed on domestic exchanges to prove they are "they are not owned or controlled by a foreign government.” 

The Nasdaq has also said it will tighten IPO rules for international companies, although it did not single-out China-based companies while doing so.

In a conference call with investors following the earnings release, Alibaba CFO Maggie Wu said the group was "closely monitoring" the development of the bill as it relates to the company's listing plans. 

Wu said the Senate bill would "essentially prohibit a foreign issuer from being listed on a US stock exchange if the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board is unable to inspect the audit work papers of the issuer’s auditors for three consecutive years due to, for example, legal restrictions in the foreign jurisdiction that would prevent disclosure of information."