Alibaba (BABA) - Get Report posted strong Singles Day results, but the figures made clear that its secondary businesses both support its core e-commerce lines and provide additional avenues of growth.
On Singles Day, a major e-commerce sales day in China, Alibaba saw $38.4 billion of gross merchandise volume, up 26% from the year-earlier result. That 2018 result in turn was up 27% from the 2017 figure.
Analysts came away from the day largely positive on Alibaba's prospects, though many of them did not move their price targets.
The growth rate on Singles Day -- China's equivalent of Amazon's (AMZN) - Get Report Prime Day -- was relatively strong, reassuring analysts and investors who've voiced slight concerns about decelerating revenue growth at Alibaba.
The numbers "were at least in line [with], if not slightly ahead of, Street expectations," wrote RBC Capital Markets analyst Zach Schwartzman. "Overall, we view these results as a positive."
And the result also came amid somewhat concerning consumer-spending data in a decelerating Chinese economy.
But here's the kicker:
Alibaba seems to be stimulating the solid demand with the help of its other businesses, like AliPay, its electronic-payments platform, and Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, among other businesses.
The AliPay payments platform was responsible for the entire gross merchandise volume on Singles Day, Alibaba said. The company added that Cainiao Network, Alibaba's logistics company, processed 1.3 billion orders. AliPay, one of the largest financial technology platforms in the world, creates a more frictionless environment for consumers to transact than traditional payment options, creating a clear synergy with the core e-commerce business.
"Alibaba is perhaps the best-positioned e-commerce platform to support the largest global shopping day of the year through its expertise and investments in cloud infrastructure (Alibaba Cloud Intelligence), payments (Alipay), and its logistics platforms (Cianiao, etc.)," said Schwartzman.
"While some macro headwinds may remain, we believe the intrinsic upgrades and investments Alibaba has made over the last two years have materially benefited the consumption growth of China's middle class and the general Chinese consumer."
The company does not break out financial results from AliPay, but Baird analyst Colin Sebastian points out in a note that AliPay is larger than PayPal (PYPL) - Get Report , which is expected to see $17.7 billion of revenue for all of 2019.
Sebastian says revenue growth could remain high as Alibaba "builds out its mobile platforms and ramps emerging business segments including cloud computing, logistics/transportation, omnichannel retail, and digital media."
For fiscal 2020 ending in March, Alibaba's revenue should grow 37% from fiscal 2019, analysts polled by FactSet estimate. That growth rate is expected to moderate to 24% by 2022.
Earnings growth is expected to see a similar trend. But Schwartzman notes that "while revenue growth has slowed ... these strategic investments have enabled a material expansion in BABA's market opportunities."
Schwartzman, who has a $240 price target on the stock, indicating 28% upside from today's $187, is looking for profit growth to reaccelerate through 2020.