For the quarter ending in September 2015, the Hangzhou, China-based company reported revenue of $3.5 billion, up 32% year over year, with earnings per share of 57 cents. Analysts were expecting revenue of $3.3 billion and earnings of 54 cents per share.
"This was a great quarter for Alibaba Group, with strong growth across the board and particular outperformance in mobile. We continued our efforts to drive healthy GMV [gross merchandise value] growth, deliver an unparalleled consumer experience and help quality merchants do business on our platform," Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said in a statement. "We are winning in mobile and remain focused on our top strategic priorities, including internationalization, expanding our ecosystem from cities to villages, and building a world-class cloud computing business."
Alibaba shares were up almost 8% in premarket trading on Tuesday.
"Overall Alibaba became a little more shareholder friendly this quarter -- they held margins, bought back stock and communicated more commitment to delivering strong results," Wedbush analyst Gil Luria said. "Volumes continued to decelerate, but were made up for in the quarter by improvements to mobile monetization."
Said TheStreet's Jim Cramer, Portfolio Manager of the Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio, "This is a true blowout with an amazing growth in mobile. The Chinese consumer is alive and well and spending on Alibaba."
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Here are the three key takeaways from Alibaba's most recent quarter.
Mobile Leads the Way
Alibaba's revenue growth in the quarter was largely propelled by its performance in mobile.
Alibaba brought in $1.7 billion in revenue from mobile commerce, up 183% year-over-year. And the gross merchandise volume (GMV) on mobile accounted for 62% of the company's total GMV.
"This was a great quarter for Alibaba Group, with strong growth across the board and particular outperformance in mobile," Zhang said during the earnings call.
As of September, Alibaba said it had 386 million annual active buyers, with 346 million monthly active users on mobile.
"Eventually this is going to be a mobile business," Alibaba CFO Maggie Wu said during the call.
The challenge with mobile growth is that monetization tends to be lower than that with personal computers, but the company is significantly improving its monetization rates.
For the quarter, it saw an overall monetization rate of 2.42%, up from 2.3% in the same quarter of 2014. And its mobile monetization rate is catching up to its PC rate -- the mobile monetization rate in the quarter was 2.39%, up from 1.87% in the same quarter of 2014. Alibaba doesn't separate out the PC monetization rate.
Alibaba is "bridging the gap with PC take rates nicely, and showing that mobile can be a more meaningful contributor to margins sooner than later," said Morningstar analyst RJ Hottovy.
Head in the Clouds
On the earnings call, Zhang pointed to Alibaba's cloud business as a key area of growth for the company.
Its cloud computing and Internet infrastructure business accelerated during the quarter, bringing in revenue of $102 million, up 128% year-over-year.
Alibaba continues to ramp up its cloud efforts, most recently opening up a new cloud center in Singapore in August.
Management did acknowledge that it's not yet focused on the profitability of the cloud business though, since it is still early stages for the company.
"I'm not terribly concerned about cloud margins at this point," Morningstar's Hottovy said. "The cloud space is still a few years behind the U.S. at this point, meaning most players are still squarely in investment mode, but [it's] also growing at a faster clip. I still think BABA has an opportunity to better monetize its cloud business as the current investment cycle winds down and it adds new services/products."
With such a large market share in China's major cities, Alibaba is now looking to expand to new geographic regions, both in China and out of China.
Within China, Alibaba is working to expand its presence in more rural regions, and during the quarter, it expanded to more than 4,000 additional villages.
The company also expanded its same-day grocery delivery service to more cities in China , including Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Wuhan.
Beyond China, Alibaba has been focusing on cross-border efforts to get international brands on its site. Most recently, the company opened offices in London and Milan to increase its selection of European brands on its platforms.