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Alibaba misses revenue estimates during regulatory crackdown persists

China’s Alibaba Group missed analyst estimates for first-quarter revenue on Tuesday, as its e-commerce business was hurt by rising competition from smaller players such as JD.Com and Pinduoduo.

Alibaba’s results mirror those of e-commerce giant Amazon in the United States, as the easing of pandemic-related restrictions has led to more consumers visiting physical stores rather than ordering online.

Core commerce revenue for Alibaba rose about 35 per cent to 180.24 billion yuan in the quarter, compared with estimates of 184.23 billion yuan. In the fourth quarter, the unit’s revenue surged more than 70 per cent.

Overall, revenue rose about 34 per cent to 205.74 billion yuan ($31.83 billion) in the first quarter ended June 30, below estimates for 209.39 billion yuan, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net income attributable to shareholders fell to 45.14 billion yuan, compared with 47.59 billion yuan a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned 16.60 yuan per share, above estimates for 14.43 yuan.

Ant Group, the fintech affiliate of Alibaba Group, recorded a profit of about 13.48 billion yuan in the quarter ended March, according to the Chinese e-commerce giant’s filing.

Alibaba, which holds about a third of Ant, posted a profit of 4.49 billion yuan for the quarter ended June 30 from its investments in the financial conglomerate.

Revenue in Alibaba’s cloud computing division grew 29% year-on-year, reaching 16.05 billion yuan ($2.49 billion)

The results come amid an ongoing Chinese regulatory crackdown on industry, during which Alibaba has become one of the main targets.

Late last year, regulators halted a planned $37 billion IPO of Ant Group in Shanghai and subsequently called for a restructuring of the financial unit.

In April, China’s anti-monopoly regulator fined Alibaba $2.75 billion for engaging in anti-competitive practices.

During an earnings call with investors, Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said the company would continue to monitor the impact of ongoing regulatory changes on the company’s business.

He cited a recent regulatory crackdown on community marketplace platforms letting sellers offer items below market price as one example of a sector the company is monitoring, in addition to the Data Security Law and an investigation from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology into open links between rival platforms.

“We are in the process of studying the regulatory requirements, evaluating the potential impacts on our relevant businesses and we will respond positively with actions,” Zhang said.

  • Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Bernadette Baum, of Reuters.

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