Breakingviews

Alibaba’s golden-child status hangs by a thread

August 12, 2015

The Chinese e-commerce group’s disappointing quarterly revenue growth pushed the shares close to last year’s float price. Investors haven’t much challenged founder Jack Ma’s free rein so far. A weakening business and over $100 bln of lost market capitalisation may change that.

Alibaba deal spree strains its financial strength

March 24, 2015

The e-commerce giant barely explained its recent investments in an Israeli venture capital fund or U.S. chat app Snapchat. Similar purchases absorbed 75 pct of Alibaba’s operating cash flow in 2014. Though its core business is robust, returns on the new ventures are uncertain.

Yahoo’s Alibaba spinoff attracts big discount

February 12, 2015

The company’s plan to distribute its stake in the Chinese company hasn’t excited investors. A Breakingviews calculator suggests they are attaching a 34 pct discount to the U.S. tech firm’s Alibaba shares – assuming Yahoo’s core business is worth something. That’s too cautious.

Say “ni hao” to Jack Ma’s Amazon-style volatility

January 29, 2015

Alibaba’s boss, like the U.S. group’s Jeff Bezos, has built online retail dominance. But there are downsides. Unpredictable earnings are Exhibit A. The Chinese group also has fickle regulators. It may not be the last time investors suffer nearly $40 bln of losses in two days.

Alibaba delivers chunky growth, but at a cost

November 4, 2014

The Chinese e-commerce giant pulled off a 54 pct revenue increase for the second quarter, its first results since listing in New York. But earnings slipped, only in part because of big IPO payouts to staff. Alibaba also says it targets sales, not margins. That’s not reassuring.

Facebook and Google catch glimpse of split future

October 9, 2014

Symantec and EMC may join eBay and HP in breaking up. These old-time tech companies have become unwieldy, often by acquisition. Relative newcomers like Facebook, Google and Alibaba are following a similar growth path. Investors are on board now, but their carve-up time will come.

PayPal forced to rev after eBay’s belated U-turn

September 30, 2014

The $70 bln online auction company has for years resisted setting free its payments business. Apple and Alibaba created more urgency than Carl Icahn and other investors could. EBay squandered a big early advantage, but independence may yet give PayPal a chance to play catch-up.

Alibaba IPO highlights SoftBank’s value dilemma

September 22, 2014

Following the Chinese e-commerce group’s listing, the Japanese conglomerate’s 32 pct stake is worth $75 bln. It eclipses the value of SoftBank’s core businesses. The near-5 pct drop in SoftBank’s shares after the IPO is a reminder the investment is both blessing and burden.

Alibaba’s small IPO hike leaves room for believers

September 16, 2014

Boosting the maximum share price by 3 pct won’t affect appetite for the Chinese e-commerce giant’s $21 bln-plus offering. Investors appear more focused on Alibaba’s growth prospects than on governance risks. That points to a warm reception when it starts trading later this week.

E-book: Alibaba and the twelve digits

By Breakingviews Columnists
September 3, 2014

China’s e-commerce colossus is hitting the road for a $100-billion-plus IPO. But a spectacular growth story comes with quirks, including bizarre governance and founder Jack Ma’s penchant for offbeat deals. Breakingviews offers a punchy primer on the risks and rewards.