Alibaba Delivers Earnings Beat, Sees ‘Steady Recovery’ From Coronavirus Setbacks

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has delivered a fourth-quarter earnings beat as coronavirus-induced lockdowns pushed customers online.

The China-based e-commerce behemoth logged a 7% gain in earnings per share to $1.30, versus analysts’ estimates of 87 cents a share. Revenues for the three-month period surged 22% to $16.1 billion, topping Wall Street’s bets of $15.2 billion.

In February, Alibaba warned that its supply and logistics operations had been negatively impacted by the coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December and has since spread globally. The company’s means of production, it added, had also been hampered by office, factory and store closures.

However, according to the company, the COVID-19 pandemic led consumers to adopt a more digital approach to purchasing daily necessities and non-discretionary products. It recorded outsized growth in its grocery category for the months of February and March, driven by an increased number of online shoppers, higher purchase frequency and larger order size.

“Although the pandemic negatively impacted most of our domestic core commerce businesses starting in late January, we have seen a steady recovery since March,” added CFO Maggie Wu.

What’s more, Alibaba ended March with 726 million users on its platform — up 72 million from the prior year and 15 million from the previous quarter — and monthly mobile active users improved 2.7% to 846 million.

“The pandemic has fundamentally altered consumer behavior and enterprise operations, making digital adoption and transformation a necessity,” chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang said in a statement. “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.”

For the full year, Alibaba noted sales that shot up 35% to $71.9 billion. Its earnings per share also advanced 38% to $7.48. Looking into the 2021 fiscal year, the online giant expects revenues in the region of $91 billion.

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