By Abhirup Roy
(StartName) – Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s [IPO-BABA.N] revenue accelerated in the April-to-June quarter on strong gains in its mobile business, providing investors with what may be the final glimpse of the Chinese e-commerce company’s financials before its expected landmark market debut.
Alibaba, whose IPO could be the largest ever by a technology company, said mobile revenue was roughly a third of its total transaction volume in the three months ended June 30, up from 27.4 percent in the first three months of the year.
Revenue in the June quarter increased 46 percent year-on-year to $2.54 billion, a faster pace than the 38.7 percent revenue growth that Alibaba posted in the previous quarter.
Net income attributable to Alibaba’s ordinary shareholders nearly tripled to $1.99 billion, or 84 cents per share, in the quarter.
“The main positive I take away is that (it) seems the mobile monetization is on a very strong upwards trajectory,” Atlantic Equities analyst James Cordwell told StartName.
“The results are very positive overall for the forthcoming IPO and I think you can see valuations to head north of $200 billion as we go through the IPO process,” Cordwell said.
Alibaba accounts for about 80 percent of all online retail sales in China, where rising Internet usage and an expanding middle-class helped the company generate gross merchandise volume of $296 billion in the 12 months ended June 30.
With people increasingly accessing the Internet from smartphones and tablets, online companies ranging from social networks such as Facebook Inc <FB.O> to e-commerce companies like Amazon.com Inc <AMZN.O> have been investing heavily to develop their mobile platforms.
“Our current focus is on increasing mobile (gross merchandise volume) and user engagement,” Alibaba said in a U.S. regulatory filing on Wednesday.
Alibaba, expected by some to price its IPO as early as next week, will have a roadshow next month that is likely to attract interest from a wide range of funds, including those focused on emerging markets and technology. Alibaba may garner a valuation of $200 billion or more when it goes public, analysts say, which would make it one of the 20 biggest companies listed in U.S. markets and more valuable than Amazon.com Inc or eBay Inc <EBAY.O>.
Though Alibaba’s growth has slowed sharply over the past two years as the Chinese leviathan accumulates scale, its revenue growth still outpaces Amazon’s. The U.S. online retailer reported a 23 percent jump in June-quarter revenue to $19.34 billion, just about half of Alibaba’s pace of expansion.
Some fund managers advocate selling out of Amazon, and buying into Alibaba as a play on Chinese consumer spending growth instead. [ID: nL1N0QW1PF]
“We’ve been waiting for this deal for so long that when it finally arrives people will have been analyzing it for a year. They’re ready to buy,” said Paul Meeks, senior analyst and portfolio manager of the Sextant Growth Fund at Saturna Capital in Bellingham, Washington.
“With an IPO that is this marquee, this large and this hot, unless bankers price it at a crazy high level I’m not sure there’s any worry about people having to clear things out,” he said earlier this month.
Alibaba had 279 million active buyers at the end of June, up 50 percent from a year earlier. The company said the average active buyer placed 52 orders in the year ended June, up from 45 in the previous year.
Alibaba said on Wednesday it had incurred “substantial indebtedness”, after fully drawing down an $8 billion credit facility. The company has arranged another credit line of $3 billion.
Even as Alibaba prepares for its IPO it has continued to invest more than $5 billion in acquisitions since the beginning of the year, including Web browser maker UCWeb and mobile mapping service AutoNavi Holdings Ltd. The number of subsidiaries and consolidated entities has jumped to 279 from 202 from March to June, according to the updated prospectus.
Shares of Yahoo Inc <YHOO.O>, which owns 22.4 percent of the company, closed up 1 percent at $38.18 on the Nasdaq.
(This stoy corrects reporting periods in first paragraph and throughout)
(Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das)