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UPDATE 3-Alibaba skids as revenue growth slowest in three years
August 12, 2015 / 11:29 AM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 3-Alibaba skids as revenue growth slowest in three years

* Alibaba Q1 revenue $3.27 bln vs $3.39 bln estimate

* Shares slump, now down nearly a third since start of 2015

* Revenue and GMV rise at slowest pace in over three years

* Company announces $4 bln share repurchase programme (Adds analyst comment, background; updates shares))

By Paul Carsten

BEIJING, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s shares fell to a record low after China’s biggest e-commerce company posted its slowest revenue growth in over three years as its strategy to shift more services to mobile devices hurt advertising sales.

The company’s shares declined as much as 8 percent to $71.03 - just shy of their IPO price of $68 - wiping off nearly $16 billion from its market value on Wednesday. The stock has lost declined nearly 30 percent this year, up to Wednesday’s close.

Alibaba also announced a $4 billion share repurchase programme over two years, aimed at offsetting the impact of its share-based compensation programmes.

The company’s results come at a time when China’s economy is expected to grow at its slowest pace in a quarter of a century. Adding to investor concerns, China devalued the yuan on Tuesday, guiding the currency to its lowest point in almost three years.

Alibaba’s Chief Executive Daniel Zhang told CNBC on Wednesday that the company was closely monitoring the economy but was “confident for long-term growth”.

The company is now branching out from its core online-only shopping platforms in a bid to stem slowing growth in both revenue and the value of sales over its websites.

“(We) made significant progress monetising our mobile traffic, with our mobile revenue exceeding 50 percent of our total China commerce retail revenue for the first time,” Maggie Wu, Alibaba’s chief financial officer, said in a statement.

But Wu conceded that mobile was still less profitable than business via personal computers, where profitability also decreased.

Revenue for the three months through June rose 28 percent to $3.27 billion, well below a forecast of $3.39 billion in a Thomson Reuters SmartEstimate poll of 28 analysts.

Gross merchandise volume (GMV) -- the total value of goods transacted across Alibaba’s platforms -- rose 34 percent to 673 billion yuan ($105 billion), also the slowest growth in more than three years.

“While we remain positive on BABA longer term, we see multiple overhangs for this name near term,” Summit Research Partners analyst Henry Guo said in a note.

Guo listed low macro-environment visibility, intensifying competition, continuing margin pressure due to aggressive investments among the negatives.

The company announced on Monday that it would invest $4.6 billion in leading Chinese electronics retailer Suning Commerce Group Co Ltd, its biggest step yet towards integrating online and store-based shopping.

The deal could give Alibaba more traction in logistics and electronics, areas in which expanding rival, China’s second-biggest e-commerce site by sales, specializes.

Alibaba’s non-GAAP net income rose 30 percent from a year earlier to $1.5 billion for the three months through June, the first quarter of its fiscal year.

($1 = 6.3845 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Paul Carsten; Additional reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in Bengaluru and Vikram Subhedar in LONDON; Editing by Mark Potter, Susan Fenton and Sayantani Ghosh

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