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  1. #1
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    [EN] Alibaba’s cloud division takes center stage

    Cloud division growing at triple digits as e-commerce slows

    Lulu Yilun Chen
    November 1, 2016

    It’s not the e-commerce business that’ll command the most attention when Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. posts earnings Wednesday. It’s the nascent cloud computing division that investors will scrutinize instead.

    China’s largest internet company reports just a week before Katy Perry and other stars headline a launch party for the annual Singles’ Day online shopping extravaganza. Yet it’s the less flashy internet-based computing unit that’s in the spotlight now that its e-commerce juggernaut is plateauing and the payoff from nascent businesses such as entertainment remains years away.

    Taking Amazon.com Inc.’s approach, Alibaba has placed cloud at the heart of its global expansion, eyeing top share in Japan in two years and beefing up its presence from the Middle East to the U.S. It already hosts more than a third of China’s websites. The company’s fastest-growing division probably helped power 53 percent growth in group revenue to 33.9 billion yuan ($5 billion) last quarter, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. And unlike other businesses such as video streaming or on-demand services, it may be close to contributing to the bottom line.

    “People have really high expectations for the cloud unit,” said Billy Leung, an analyst at Haitong International Securities Co. “For me, it’s already in the books, in the share price.”

    Shares of Alibaba have surged 25 percent this year compared with a rise of just 3.3 percent for the NYSE Composite Index.

    Alibaba has only recently begun to make inroads beyond China and into a global cloud market dominated by Amazon and Microsoft Corp. It’s the biggest provider of internet-based computing -- everything from storage and data analysis to server hosting -- for government agencies and corporations within its home market, but abroad it’s more narrowly focused on supporting Chinese-based organizations on foreign soil. The division now accounts for less than 5 percent of Alibaba’s revenue, the lion’s share of which comes from an e-commerce division still growing at double-digit rates.

    But that proportion is climbing steadily and could help the company grapple with a profusion of difficulties facing the wider economy. Chinese gross domestic product grew 6.7 percent in the third quarter, its slowest pace of expansion since 2009.

    “One of the key focuses this quarter will be Alibaba’s cloud unit performance,” said Li Muzhi, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Arete Research Services LLP who expects the unit’s revenue to soar 130 percent to 1.49 billion yuan. “If Alibaba’s cloud unit breaks even this quarter, that would be a confidence booster for investors.”

    Like Amazon’s, Alibaba’s cloud service emerged from the enormous computational power needed to handle millions of online shopping transactions. But unlike its U.S. counterpart, it enjoys home-field advantage in a vast Chinese market where web-based computing is still novel to many enterprises.

    Its push into cloud, where software and services are provided to customers via server farms the size of football fields, prompted a second data center in Silicon Valley and preparation for its first in Europe. Along the way, Alibaba forged partnerships with industry giants like Intel Corp. and Nvidia Corp. In July, the division’s president proclaimed it could match or even surpass Amazon within three to four years.

    Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma once referred to data as the new oil. Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang said last month that cloud computing will underpin the upgrading of China’s $4 trillion retail market, one of the company’s biggest opportunities. He envisions building a system that monitors in-store sales as they happen, giving retailers and brands the ability to adjust in real time.

    If that happens, the cloud could well become one of Alibaba’s bigger profit centers. Amazon Web Services earned $861 million of operating income last quarter, by far the U.S. company’s most lucrative division.

    Alibaba said in August that the unit was close to breaking even, driven by some 577,000 paying customers. Overall, Alibaba is expected to post 7 billion yuan of net income, a 69 percent drop propelled in part by the integration of loss-making online video streaming business Youku Tudou and Lazada Group SA, acquired earlier this year.

    Cloud is “the next revenue driver,” Credit Suisse analysts Evan Zhou and Monica Chen wrote in a note last week, tagging its growth for the September quarter at about 147 percent.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...merce-plateaus

  2. #2
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    Citação Postado originalmente por 5ms Ver Post
    In July, the division’s president proclaimed it could match or even surpass Amazon within three to four years.
    Julho de 2015.

  3. #3
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    The company’s fastest-growing division probably helped power 53 percent growth in group revenue to 33.9 billion yuan ($5 billion) last quarter, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

    The division now accounts for less than 5 percent of Alibaba’s revenue, the lion’s share of which comes from an e-commerce division still growing at double-digit rates.

    Hum. Contribuindo com menos de 5% do faturamento "provavelmente" ajudou no aumento de 53% da receita total do grupo. Fascinante.

  4. #4
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    Paul Mozur ‏@paulmozur 1 hour ago
    Alibaba beats expectations slightly with revenue up 55%. Stock ticking up a bit pre-market.

    Paul Mozur ‏@paulmozur 52 minutes ago
    Some impressive numbers from Alibaba: 78% of China commerce retail came from mobile. Food delivery service Koubei did $7 bln in transactions

    Paul Mozur ‏@paulmozur 37 minutes ago
    Alibaba's revenue per mobile user a bit confusing. Alibaba income is from vendors spending on ads, not consumers buying things.

    Paul Mozur ‏@paulmozur 36 minutes ago
    So it's a measure of how much each user is worth in ad dollars, not how much each user is spending on Alibaba's e-commerce sites.

  5. #5
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    ‘High-up’ Alibaba staffer helping SEC probe into tech giant

    Paul Mozur ‏@paulmozur 12 minutes ago
    Alibaba's Joe Tsai says no "factual basis" to NYPost story saying high-ranking mole aiding SEC investigation

    James Covert
    November 1, 2016

    A federal probe of Alibaba’s books is far from dead — and it’s getting help from at least one insider.

    The Securities and Exchange Commission is working with one or more whistleblowers as it investigates the controversial accounting practices of the China-based e-commerce giant, The Post has learned.

    Alibaba disclosed in May that the SEC was looking into how it accounts for a tangle of complex transactions between its Cainiao logistics arm and dozens of other business affiliates, as well as the way it reports sales for its annual Singles’ Day shopping bash.

    One mole was identified as a “high-up” official at Alibaba “who helped initiate the investigation” earlier this year, according to a source close to the situation.

    It couldn’t immediately be learned whether that official is still working at Alibaba, which is headed by billionaire Jack Ma, but the insider is now “assisting the SEC in the hopes of a reward,” the source said.

    SEC probers “may be using other whistleblowers” in addition to one who’s confirmed, the source added, noting that the investigation “will probably take another several months.”

    One or more whistleblowers could lend the SEC a crucial hand as it scrutinizes NYSE-listed Alibaba’s operations in China, much of which have been shielded from the US spotlight by local authorities.

    “There are laws within China on what [Alibaba] can turn over or not turn over, and that could support the company being nonresponsive” to the SEC, said Donn Vickrey of Pacific Square Research, a firm that has raised questions about Alibaba’s accounting.

    “But if there’s a whistleblower, it raises the possibility they have someone who could provide those documents,” said Vickrey, adding that he had no knowledge of the federal probe’s progress.

    An SEC spokesman declined to comment on Monday. Alibaba spokesman Bob Christie declined to comment about the reported whistleblower and said the company is fully cooperating with the SEC.

    Last month, Alibaba said sales from this year’s Singles’ Day festival, slated for next week with headliner Katy Perry, are expected to top last year’s, when the company said they surged 60 percent to $14.3 billion.

    Short-sellers have questioned such eye-popping numbers, charging that they could be inflated by fake transactions or sales from canceled orders.

    The source close to the investigation, who wasn’t affiliated with a short-seller, said the whistleblower “is contending billions in accounting irregularities” at Alibaba — an allegation that couldn’t be confirmed.

    Further details couldn’t immediately be learned, but Alibaba skeptics including short-seller Jim Chanos have particularly questioned whether the Cainiao logistics arm is being used to hide losses on Alibaba’s balance sheet.

    Info on the individual warehouses and shipping companies used by Cainiao is scarce, so “you don’t see the entire operation of Alibaba,” Chanos griped in an interview with CNBC last week.

    http://nypost.com/2016/11/01/high-up...to-tech-giant/

  6. #6
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    Taobao is a Chinese website for online shopping similar to eBay and Amazon that is operated in China by Alibaba Group.

    Baidu engages in the provision of Internet search solutions and online marketing solutions. The company also operates an e-commerce platform with an online payment tool, develops and markets Web application software, and provides human resource related services. Its products include search products and Web directory, search-based community products, mobile search, related products and services for websites and enterprises, e-commerce, entertainment products, software and related search products. As of 2006, Baidu provided an index of over 740 million web pages, 80 million images, and 10 million multimedia files.
    Última edição por 5ms; 02-11-2016 às 11:06.

  7. #7
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    Alibaba Earnings Show It Again Defying China’s Slowdown

    PAUL MOZUR
    NOV. 2, 2016

    Amid concerns about a slowdown in the growth of the Chinese economy, China’s largest e-commerce company is showing that — for now — business on its platforms is holding steady.

    Alibaba Group said on Wednesday that its revenue grew strongly in the three months through the end of September, as the myriad brands and small-time vendors on its online shopping sites kept spending heavily on advertising. Although Chinese economic growth has slowed, more shoppers are also turning to Alibaba sites while abandoning physical retail outlets like malls.

    Alibaba said its sales rose 55 percent to $5.14 billion in its second quarter from the same period a year earlier. Net profit dropped 69 percent from a year ago, to $1.06 billion, because of a one-time accounting gain that had raised last year’s bottom line.

    While the company has been mostly immune to China’s slowing growth — gross domestic product expanded 6.7 percent in the past three quarters, down from 6.9 percent for all of 2015 — the value of goods sold on Alibaba’s online platforms had begun to plateau. While it has a strong hold on the online market for China’s middle-class shoppers, almost all of them already own a smartphone, so growth through new customers is harder to achieve.

    To compensate for slowing sales growth on its platforms, Alibaba — which makes money on advertising and fees paid by the vendors that set up virtual stores on its platforms — has been doing more to improve targeting of advertisements. It is also seeking to bring in new international brands that pay a fee to sell on its platforms.

    Given the slowdown, analysts have focused more on other businesses that Alibaba has been building up in recent years. But those businesses, like cloud computing and digital entertainment, all posted losses during the quarter. As Alibaba’s profit margins shrink, investors will put more pressure on the company to extract profit from its newer business.

    During a conference call with analysts, Joseph Tsai, the company’s executive vice chairman, said that its cloud computing and digital entertainment units were “coming into their own in terms of scale.” Still, he warned that the company viewed its investments in new businesses as projects that may not yield profit for the next five to 10 years.

    Many have particularly focused on Alibaba’s cloud services which, much like Amazon Web Services, provide easy-to-use, back-end computing power for a wide range of companies.

    Revenue from the cloud service more than doubled from a year earlier, to $224 million in the most recent quarter, but posted a $60 million operating loss. Alibaba said it had added 74,000 subscribers to the service over the quarter, raising its total paying users to 651,000. Analysts have predicted that the business could begin producing profit for Alibaba in the coming few years.

    “Alibaba has gone beyond the position of an e-commerce play,” said Jessie Guo, an analyst at Jefferies, an investment bank, citing its cloud computing and logistics arms as well as its electronic payments affiliate, Ant Financial. “We see it as an ecosystem. That means its model is going to be more sophisticated.”

    A new spate of public listings by Chinese logistics firms could help Alibaba, Shi Jialong, a technology analyst at Nomura, wrote in a recent note to clients. These firms, which deliver goods ordered online to customers, have risen on the back of Alibaba’s success, and they could use proceeds from those share sales to expand their networks and enhance delivery capabilities, “which eventually would help improve the quality of services for Alibaba’s customers,” Mr. Shi wrote.

    Alibaba’s logistics unit is part of a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into the company’s accounting. In part because of that investigation, short-seller interest in the company has risen near peak levels in recent days, according to data from Bloomberg. Alibaba has said it is cooperating with the inquiry and has begun to disclose more information about those operations to investors.

    For many, earnings are simply a prelude to Singles Day, an intense shopping holiday on Nov. 11 engineered in part by Alibaba, in which the company’s vendors offer major discounts. Growth in sales on the day of the event has slowed, and Alibaba is pulling out all the stops this year, featuring a slew of entertainment features including a concert by the American pop star Katy Perry.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/03/bu...ngs-china.html
    Última edição por 5ms; 02-11-2016 às 11:11.

  8. #8
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    Revenue from the cloud service more than doubled from a year earlier, to $224 million in the most recent quarter, but posted a $60 million operating loss. Alibaba said it had added 74,000 subscribers to the service over the quarter, raising its total paying users to 651,000.
    A lenda é que Azure está atraindo 120 mil novos clientes a cada mês.
    Última edição por 5ms; 02-11-2016 às 11:23.

  9. #9
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    Hedge funds sense weakness in Alibaba's reassurances about loyalty & the cloud bloom

    Tim Culpan
    Nov 2, 2016

    Alibaba sentiment has never been this high. Since listing in the U.S. more than two years ago, hedge funds are more confident than ever in their assessment of the Chinese e-commerce giant.

    But it's not the stock price that's up, it's short interest. And the conclusion of hedgies and shorts is clear: Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is set to fall. Not surprisingly, the sell-side disagrees, giving it a 40-to-0 buy-to-sell ratio, with five fence sitters.

    Get Shorty

    Bets against Alibaba's stock have risen steadily since May.

    While margins may be hurt by the consolidation of video-streaming service Youku and South East Asian e-commerce provider Lazada, as well as spending on new projects, growth should "remain solid," JPMorgan Chase & Co. wrote before Alibaba released its earnings on Wednesday. Robert W. Baird & Co. also thinks Alibaba's fundamental growth trends are intact and actually advises investors to buy on earnings-related weakness.

    Such weakness was somewhat obscured by the September quarter report, which showed that sales barely beat expectations while net income exceeded estimates. Unsurprisingly, the knee-jerk reaction was for shares to spike in premarket trading despite the fact that operating income missed estimates.

    Elsewhere in the earnings release, there were indicators of concern for those who were looking. Annual active buyers climbed just 1 percent from the previous quarter, mobile monthly active users increased only 5 percent over the same period and operating margin narrowed despite a 55 percent jump in sales from a year earlier.

    Even before the most recent revelation that a company insider may be tipping off U.S. authorities in their investigation into Alibaba's accounting practices, bears have had reason to disagree with the rosy story being spun by their brokers. Apart from concerns about its bookkeeping, Alibaba's news ticker over the past year has been filled with reports of a slowing Chinese economy, inability to expand overseas, increasing competition and the cost of absorbing new acquisitions.

    Those are perfectly valid reasons for being concerned about the stock. Yet Alibaba has always had a rebuttal. In its August call, Vice Chairman Joe Tsai told investors that while it faced skepticism because of "economic headwinds and reduced expectations from the industry," Alibaba's leadership "never had any doubt that we would be able to deliver increasing monetization of our users."

    Alibaba wants to decouple growth from transaction volume -- which the industry jargonistically calls Gross Merchandise Value -- as if its customers are somehow loyal to Alibaba and not just after the cheapest deals or best knockoffs.

    Our high-value and highly-engaged users attract brands and merchants who increasingly rely on our online marketing solutions to reach and engage with these consumers.

    That's better spin than a Roger Federer forehand.

    But the other plank of Alibaba's platform is one that's getting a lot of interest: cloud services. Alibaba executives want to make cloud computing the center of a global push, mimicking and competing with Amazon.com Inc.'s strategy based on Amazon Web Services.

    Unfortunately, Alibaba is late to the game. It may have a solid position in China, but it's facing stiff competition from its mentor in overseas territories where it can compete only on price. Analysts are hopeful that Alibaba can turn its cloud business profitable, but it won't take much for some stiff competition to push that back into the red again and to keep it there.

    Birds of a Feather

    Alibaba lacks the technology, the trust and the gravitas that Amazon enjoys, while Amazon has shown no compunction about burning money to kill off rivals. Given the desperation of Baidu Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. to leverage their own massive server farms and big data, you can expect yet another bout of rivalry to kill earnings.

    Should Alibaba be willing to accept minimal margins in return for luring more clients into its orbit, then cloud computing will be little more than a marketing tool, which brings it back to relying on those customers it so quaintly believes are loyal.

    And if there's one thing hedge funds understand, it's how fickle loyalty is as a store of value.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/art...alty-and-cloud

  10. #10
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    Insights into Chinese Data Center Market

    Bill Stoller
    November 3, 2016

    On Wednesday, November 2, GDS Holdings Limited rang the bell at the NASDAQ, becoming the latest publicly traded data center operator listed for trading on a US stock exchange.

    There are currently six publicly traded US data center REITs. However, GDS Holdings represents an entirely different type of investment opportunity.

    GDS Holdings is the largest operator of carrier-neutral data centers in mainland China, with a market share of 25 percent, according to 451 Research.



    GDS Overview

    In an interview with Data Center Knowledge, GDS Holdings CFO Ben Newman explained there was no single US data center operator which would be comparable to GDS.

    Newman suggested some similarities with Equinix, due to having a primary focus on Tier 1 markets. However, GDS actively leases to wholesale data center customers similar to a Digital Realty or DuPont Fabros. He also described parallels to QTS Realty when it comes to offering customers in-house hosting and managed service options.

    GDS Holdings is essentially a hybrid data center operator with ~50 percent of area committed to wholesale customers.

    The Opportunity

    China has a huge ecommerce market, as noted in the company SEC filing, “The e-commerce market in China measured by gross merchandise value, or GMV, was RMB3,877 billion (US$583 billion) in 2015, according to the National Bureau of Statistics in China, compared to US$342 billion in the United States, according to the United States Census Bureau.”

    On September 30, 2016, GDS had two customers who accounted for 26.1% and 20.8%, respectively, of total committed square footage. No other end user customer accounted for 10% or more of the total area committed.

    GDS has a partnership with Aliyun, cloud services arm of the Chinese internet giant Alibaba, which hosts cloud infrastructure in its facilities, and wants to strike similar deals with more cloud service providers.

    Notably, the company did not break out revenue by customer in the filing. However, in addition to Alibaba, GDS also counts titans Baidu and Tencent among its largest internet and cloud customers.

    IPO Is Funding Growth

    The company operates a fleet of eight purpose-built high-performance data centers totaling 428,000 square feet. In addition, GDS operates 10 facilities leased from third-parties which in aggregate comprise another 100,000 square feet of rentable space.

    GDS Holdings currently has five new data centers and two expansion phases under construction, with an aggregate net floor area of 400,000 square feet. GDS has another 215,000 square feet held for future development. Additionally, GDS has signed a memorandum to lease three data center shell buildings, totaling 325,000 square feet of additional space.

    The GDS average price for committed area ranged from US$900 to US$1,200 per rack per month in 2015. This pricing is expected to remain largely stable from 2015 to 2018, according to the F-1 filing. By way of comparison, Equinix has reported average MRR (monthly recurring revenue) per cabinet of ~$2,000, in the recent past.



    What Is Driving Growth?

    GDS Holdings founder, chairman and CEO William Huang told Data Center Knowledge that his original vision 15 years ago, was to become a leader in the Chinese carrier-neutral data center space. He explained that he followed an entirely different strategy than Chinese companies which were simply licensed to resell state-owned carrier data center space and bandwidth at about the same time.

    Initially GDS customers primarily were large Chinese financial institutions which only operated centralized on-premises data centers at the time. GDS pioneered disaster recovery and business continuity services to help banks with risk mitigation. This required the construction of new high-performance enterprise-quality data centers.

    Today, the large cloud, internet, and ecommerce customers account for 70.8 percent of GDS revenues, with the financial institutions and large enterprise accounting for 15.1 and 14.1 percent, respectively. In 2015, approximately 70 percent of new leasing activity was driven by the 350 existing customers, according to Huang.

    When asked about future international growth, Huang replied, “Frankly speaking, there are no plans to expand outside of China.” Huang anticipates abundant growth opportunities in mainland China, making the point that there were currently about 13 million Chinese corporations. Huang believes GDS has the potential to grow to a $10 billion firm solely by focusing on the top 1,000-2,000 Chinese private sector companies.

    In the IPO announcement, Huang said, “There is opportunity in fulfilling the most demanding, mission-critical IT infrastructure requirements of top-tier internet companies, financial institutions, large enterprises and multinational corporations. We have the right resources in the right places to capture the tremendous growth opportunities on the horizon.”

    Competitive Landscape

    The major Chinese data center markets are Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and, to a lesser degree, Chengdu. These five major markets accounted for approximately 90% of the total high-performance data center market of China in terms of revenue in 2015, according to 451 Research. GDS also serves customers in Hong Kong.

    CFO Newman pointed out that GDS is the only carrier-neutral provider active in all five Chinese Tier 1 markets, which was a competitive advantage.

    However, there is competition in each market from other carrier-neutral data center operators, including: domestic providers Sinnet, Dr. Peng, and 21Vianet, and international players, such as US-based Equinix and Japan’s KDDI and NTT.

    Tale Of The Tape

    On Wednesday, the GDS IPO priced at $10.00 per ADS, or American Depository Share , and closed at $10.41. The 4.1% gain was in stark contrast to the data center REITs which have struggled during the past two weeks.

    However, GDS was not immune to this downturn in investor sentiment as the IPO offering had initially been priced in a range of $12.00-$14.00 per ADS. Notably, there have been other recent Chinese IPOs which have not performed well after being listed — another headwind for GDS Holdings, which they could not control.

    Notably, each ADS is equivalent to eight GDS Class-A common shares.

    Prior to the US listing, there were 567,000,000 shares. The 19,250,000 US ADS increased the outstanding shares by 154,000,000 shares, to just over 721,000,000 Class-A shares; plus, there is a 30-day underwriter option equivalent to 23,100,000 shares. Additionally, there are employee options, consultant options, and convertible bonds which could add ~40,000,000 Class-A shares to the fully diluted share count.

    http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/a...gs-ipo-update/

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