Alibaba full-year profit slumps nearly 60% on tech crackdown, Covid

AFP , Thursday 26 May 2022

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said Thursday its profit fell 59 percent in the last fiscal year, joining other tech firms that reported lacklustre results while grappling with Covid-19 restrictions and a sector crackdown.

An Alibaba sign is seen outside the company s offices in Beijing. AFP


China's economy has been battered by the fallout from strict Covid curbs including lockdowns and transport restrictions that have kept consumers home, pushed up unemployment, and tangled supply chains.

Alibaba has also had to contend with a wide-ranging regulatory crackdown on alleged anti-competitive practices by China's tech giants.

The Hangzhou-based group cited "macro challenges that impacted supply chains and consumer sentiment" as it announced a loss of 16.2 billion yuan ($2.56 billion) for the January-March quarter.

It warned it would not give forward-looking financial guidance due to Covid risks and uncertainty.

Alibaba has seen its market value plummet since Beijing launched its sweeping crackdown in 2020 on some of China's largest home-grown companies.

The crackdown included a last-minute cancellation of a planned IPO by Alibaba's financial arm Ant Group -- which would have been the world's largest public offering at the time.

The company was also hit with a record $2.75 billion fine for alleged unfair practices last year.

But Alibaba Group said Thursday its revenue grew around nine percent in the last quarter to 204.1 billion yuan, better than expected in a Bloomberg forecast.

The company's revenues -- generated mainly by its core e-commerce operations -- were up 19 percent for the fiscal year ending March 31.

Meanwhile, its full-year profit came to 62 billion yuan ($9.8 billion).

"Since mid-March 2022, our domestic businesses have been significantly affected by the Covid-19 resurgence in China, particularly in Shanghai," the company said.

"Considering the risks and uncertainties arising from Covid-19... we believe it is prudent at this time not to give financial guidance as we typically do at the start of the fiscal year," it added.

Alibaba's earnings follow a series of sluggish results by prominent Chinese tech firms, with internet giant Baidu on Thursday reporting a net loss of 885 million yuan ($140 million) in the first quarter.

Baidu's business has been "negatively impacted" by China's recent Covid-19 resurgence since mid-March, co-founder Robin Li said in a statement.

Virus-related challenges continue to pressure Baidu's near-term operations, Li said.

Tencent last Wednesday reported record low quarterly revenue growth at 135.5 billion yuan ($20.1 billion) in the first quarter, putting year-on-year expansion at nearly zero.

China is the last major economy to stick to a strict zero-Covid policy, which is now being tested by the infectious Omicron variant.

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