Alibaba earnings leap on cusp of stock market debut

AFP
Alibaba dominates the Chinese online retail space with Taobao.com and TMall.com
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Alibaba dominates the Chinese online retail space with Taobao.com and TMall.com (AFP Photo/Mike Clarke)

Just weeks ahead of its expected debut on the New York Stock Exchange, Chinese Internet colossus Alibaba reported that its quarterly profit nearly tripled on surging revenue.

Alibaba Group made a profit of nearly $2 billion on revenue of $2.5 billion in the quarter ending June 30 according to updated documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Revenue rose 46 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Alibaba's services are similar to a mix of those offered by US Internet titans eBay, PayPal and Amazon.com.

However the China-based group does not sell products directly, instead hosting online venues such as Taobao where buyers and sellers can do business.

The strategy has given Alibaba an enviable profit margin as an online middleman of sorts.

Deals made at Alibaba markets using mobile devices jumped to about a third of total volume from 12 percent in the same quarter last year, signaling that the operation is in step with lifestyles shifts toward smartphones and tablets.

The number of people accessing Alibaba from mobile devices monthly rose 15 percent to 188 million in a year-over-year comparison, according to the filing.

The company generates the bulk of its revenue in China, but has begun expanding internationally.

Vibrant earnings figures promised to ramp interest in Alibaba on Wall Street, where the company is expected to make a blockbuster initial public offering (IPO) of stock in September.

The Chinese group has not revealed how many shares it will make available nor the opening price.

Analysts say the IPO could raise around $15 billion or more -- putting it on par with Facebook's $16 billion IPO in 2012 -- and value the firm from $100 billion to $200 billion or higher.

Founder Jack Ma set up Alibaba in 1999, convincing friends to fund him with $60,000.

The company started as a platform for Chinese manufacturers to connect with foreign buyers and later launched flagship site Taobao in 2003.

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