Starboard’s Yahoo flip-flop misses the point

November 19, 2015

The pushy investor now wants the $31 bln tech company to offload its main business instead of its Alibaba holding. A switcheroo won’t erase a discount and residual tax liability on the stake. However it’s engineered, the real problems for Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer will remain.

Alibaba bid turns Youku from horror to mystery

October 16, 2015

The Chinese e-commerce group is offering $5.2 billion to buy the video site in which it owns a stake, at a 30 percent premium. Being absorbed into Alibaba ought to improve returns for the perpetually loss-making Youku. It should create value – not that either side is asking.

Yahoo’s Alibaba spinoff troubles may outlast boss

September 29, 2015

Marissa Mayer plans to complete the internet firm’s separation from the Chinese e-commerce company. Resolving tax issues may take years, though, if authorities challenge the deal. With Yahoo’s business stagnant and competition rising, the CEO may be gone before wrangling ends.

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.