Alibaba approves additional $25 billion share buyback as revenue disappoints

SINGAPORE (AP) — Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding on Wednesday approved an additional $25 billion authorization to its share buyback program, amid lower-than-expected sales revenue for the last quarter of 2023.

Alibaba posted a 5% increase in sales to 260.3 billion yuan ($36.67 billion) for its quarter ended December, slightly missing analyst estimates.

Net income sank to 14.4 billion yuan ($2 billion), down 77% compared to the same time last year. The Hangzhou-based firm attributed the drastic drop in net income to the decrease in value of its equity investments and a decrease in income from operations due to that.

Alibaba’s New York-listed stock price fell about 4% in premarket trading following the report.

“Our top priority is to reignite the growth of our core businesses, e-commerce and cloud computing,” said Alibaba CEO Eddie Wu in a statement.

He pledged to step up investment to improve user experience and drive growth for its e-commerce platforms Taobao and Tmall, as well as strengthen market leadership.

The company, once a leader in China’s e-commerce industry, has faced increasing competition from rivals such as Pinduoduo and ByteDance, which operates TikTok and Douyin.

In an attempt to drive growth, Alibaba in December named current CEO Eddie Wu as the new head of its e-commerce business, replacing longtime Alibaba executive Trudy Dai. The move was made weeks after rival PDD, which operates Pinduoduo, had surpassed Alibaba in market value.

The company has struggled to recover following a regulatory crackdown on the technology industry and a $2.8 billion fine after authorities deemed that it had violated antitrust regulations.

Alibaba’s revenue growth has slowed even as its e-commerce rivals have gained market share. The firm’s New York-listed stock has plunged nearly 26% over the past year.

Alibaba restructured its businesses in March, splitting them into six units that would eventually raise their own capital and go public.

Its cloud unit had been expected to be among the first to hold an initial public offering, but Alibaba has since scrapped plans to spin-off the business, citing uncertainties over U.S. export curbs on advanced chips used for artificial intelligence.