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  1. #1
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    [EN] Alibaba beats forecast with 56% jump in sales

    Alibaba Group Holding beat analysts’ forecasts and posted a 56 per cent jump in its first-quarter revenue, helped by sales growth in cloud computing and its business operating the largest online shopping platforms on the planet.

    Zen Soo
    17 August, 2017

    Shares of the company rise 1.1 per cent in New York before earnings were announced to a record US$159.50, giving Alibaba US$408.5 billion in market capitalisation as Asia’s most valuable company.

    Sales rose to 50.2 billion yuan (US$7.5 billion) in its first quarter ended June, surpassing the 47.9 billion yuan consensus estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Net profit jumped 96 per cent to 14 billion yuan during the period.

    The bulk of the Hangzhou-based company’s revenue came from its core e-commerce business, including the online shopping platforms Taobao, Tmall, and its international business units like AliExpress and Lazada in Southeast Asia, where sales rose 58 per cent to 43 billion yuan from last year.

    “Revenue acceleration in our China retail marketplaces continues to benefit from robust growth in average spending per merchant and the number of paying merchants, which reached a historical high during the quarter,” according to a statement by Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post.

    Alibaba earns revenue from e-commerce by offering paying merchants consumer insights and advertising options to better target and engage customers.

    As many as 529 million people use the Taobao shopping app on their smartphones every month, an increase of 4.3 per cent from March this year, Alibaba said. The company turned its focus to the offline market since 2015, investing more than US$8 billion in brick-and-mortar retailers such as in the Chinese electronics chain Suning, department store chain Intime Retail Group and supermarket chains Lianhua and Sanjiang.

    It launched 13 Hema Supermarkets since 2015, which offer what Alibaba calls a “new retail experience” by combining both online and offline shopping features. Users can shop from the comfort of their homes with direct delivery, by linking their Hema mobile app to Alipay, the electronic payment system operated by an Alibaba affiliate.

    The company, whose stock has been listed in New York since 2014, also operates one of Asia’s largest cloud computing business. Revenue from cloud computing grew 96 per cent to 2.4 billion yuan during the quarter from last year, with more than 1 million customers.

    Revenue in Alibaba’s digital media and entertainment businesses grew 30 per cent to 4 billion yuan, a slower pace compared with the 234 per cent surge in the previous quarter. Contributions came from valued-added services such as news feeds and mobile search contributed by its browser service UCWeb. Still, the segment continued to be unprofitable, losing 3.4 billion yuan in the quarter as Alibaba continued to invest in content on video platform Youku Tudou to spur growth in users and subscriptions.

    Internationally, the company is also expanding into Southeast Asia, investing another US$1 billion into Singapore-based e-commerce retailer Lazada in June, taking its total investment in the retailer to US$2 billion. It now has a stake of about 83 per cent in Lazada, which is valued at about US$3.15 billion.

    Alibaba’s shares rose 1.1 per cent on Wednesday in New York trading before earnings were announced, rising to a record US$159.50, giving the company US$408.5 billion in market capitalisation as Asia’s most valuable company.

    http://www.scmp.com/business/compani...wth-e-commerce

  2. #2
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    As Alibaba’s Profit Surges, Its Shares Catch Up With U.S. Online Giants’

    As Tencent, Alibaba mint money, investors finally rate them w/ Silicon Valley's best. Both now valued over $400 bln.

    PAUL MOZUR
    AUG. 17, 2017

    This year may finally be the year that global investors put Chinese internet companies alongside American giants like Facebook and Amazon.

    On Thursday, Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant, said its profit for the three months that ended in June almost doubled, while its revenue rose more than half. But just as impressive a jump was its stock price, which has increased more than 80 percent so far this year. Now Alibaba and its biggest Chinese rival, Tencent Holdings, have valuations that hover around $400 billion.

    By contrast, Amazon.com has a valuation of about $470 billion, while Facebook is at about $490 billion.

    Investors are becoming more aware that Alibaba and Tencent have become central to the day-to-day entertainment, shopping and spending habits of China’s middle class. Tencent, which offers extremely popular video games and social media services, reported on Wednesday its own surge in quarterly profit, sending its shares higher still.

    But like its American peers, high valuations lead to high expectations.

    The Numbers

    Alibaba said its fiscal first-quarter profit rose 94 percent to $2.2 billion, thanks to strong sales. Sales across its e-commerce businesses rose 56 percent.

    Alibaba’s sales have surged as Chinese statistics show consumers in the country continue to do more and more of their shopping online. In that sense, Alibaba’s growth is tracking China’s efforts to transform its economy to rely more on American-style consumption and less on government spending.

    That does not make it infallible. Alibaba’s results rely on its online marketplaces, which face growing competition and could someday be hit by a slowdown in growth either from the Chinese economy or from internet adoption in a still-developing country. To diversify, Alibaba has been expanding into entertainment and cloud computing and looking for new opportunities overseas, where it faces competition from its American peers.

    The Technology

    The strong growth also cloaks a more complicated picture. Over the past year, Alibaba’s increase in revenue has outstripped the actual value of the goods being sold on its e-commerce websites. That means that the company has been able to earn more off the vendors who sell everything from name brands to knickknacks on its sites.

    Alibaba makes money from vendors by charging them for advertising on its platforms, among other services. New technology and some of its corporate deals have given it access to new and better data that give it more power to target those vendors.

    That approach has kept Alibaba’s results strong despite a slowdown in growth of the total value of goods being sold on its platform. But it is not clear how long it can keep that phenomenon going, fueling its effort to find new consumers and expand into new businesses.

    Jack Ma Goes to Washington

    As part of that push, Jack Ma, Alibaba’s charismatic founder, has been barnstorming across the American political landscape over the past year. A sort of ambassador for the company, Mr. Ma met with President Trump and held a conference in Detroit. His goal has been to persuade more American vendors to get on Alibaba and sell to a Chinese middle class that craves foreign goods.

    By attracting more vendors from overseas, Alibaba is able to bring in more big advertising spenders, and support its revenue growth.

    Helping his cause was a settlement announced this month between Alibaba and Kering, the luxury goods giant that owns the Gucci brand and had filed a lawsuit in 2015 charging counterfeit goods had been sold from Alibaba’s e-commerce websites.

    The Amazon Aspect

    As Alibaba looks abroad, it may finally directly compete with that other e-commerce giant, Amazon. In Southeast Asia, where Alibaba owns an online commerce platform called Lazada, it will probably face a new Amazon initiative in the region.

    Some have wondered whether Mr. Ma is simply following Amazon’s game plan. Just as Amazon has done, Alibaba has started a cloud computing business, bought into a high-profile newspaper, worked to begin creating its own entertainment content, and more recently made bold predictions about unmanned retail stores that will use smartphones to automatically charge customers.

    Still, there are some ways in which Alibaba is different. The biggest one is its financial affiliate, Ant Financial, which is responsible for trillions of dollars in money transfers each year. As it looks to expand the business overseas, it has bid for MoneyGram, a remittance company that would give it new exposure to America. As American regulators review that deal, much will depend on Mr. Ma’s political maneuverings.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/17/b...er-profit.html

  3. #3
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    Alibaba profits double as ecommerce boom continues

    Louise Lucas
    2017-08-17

    Alibaba reported a near doubling in net income to $2.07bn in the quarter to end-June, handily beating expectations. A 56 per cent rise in revenues, to $7.4bn sets the Chinese tech group up for its bullish annual guidance, released in June, of 45 to 49 per cent growth.

    Shares in Alibaba, like its fellow Chinese tech giants, have been on a tear, rising over 70 per cent year to date and it now boasts a market capitalization in excess of $400bn. Unlike some of its peers it also managed to lift its operating margins in the period, from 27 per cent a year ago to 35 per cent in the latest quarter.

    Alibaba benefitted from strong growth in its core ecommerce business, riding the boom of Chinese online shopping. Its newer businesses are also fast expanding: cloud revenues doubled to $359m and it now boasts over 1 million paying customers. however, like the digital entertainment business, it made an even bigger loss in the latest quarter than in the year ago period.

    Results came as Alibaba became the latest victim of Beijing’s tightening crackdown on the internet sector – a move which has also hit fellow tech companies like Tencent and Sina Weibo. On Thursday it was warned by China’s top cyberspace regulator against carrying illicit content, substances and tools to help users circumvent the nation’s internet content barriers.

    The Cyberspace Administration of China on Thursday ordered five services, including Alibaba’s Taobao internet bazaar, to rectify problems – removing from sale VPN tools among other items.

    https://www.ft.com/content/99f3b66a-...6-c0dee4c28533

  4. #4
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    Wal-Mart's margins fall on price cuts, spending on e-commerce

    Nandita Bose
    August 17, 2017

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc on Thursday reported lower quarterly margins after it cut prices and invested heavily on expanding its e-commerce operations, and its shares fell nearly 3 percent.

    Investors shrugged an increase in comparable sales, which have risen for three straight years as more people shopped at the company's stores and made purchases online.

    "Strategic price investments in key markets and the growing mix of our e-commerce business reduced the gross margin rate," Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs said in a statement.

    Wal-Mart said sales at U.S. stores open at least a year rose 1.8 percent, excluding fuel price fluctuations, during the second quarter ended on July 31. That is stronger than market expectations for a rise of 1.7 percent, according to research firm Consensus Metrix.

    U.S. store visits increased 1.3 percent from 1.2 percent a year earlier.

    Net income attributable to Wal-Mart fell 23 percent to $2.9 billion, or 96 per cents per share, from $3.7 billion, or $1.21 per share, a year earlier due to a loss from repurchasing debt after a bond tender offer.

    Excluding special items, earnings per share of $1.08 exceeded the analysts' average estimate of $1.07, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    Gross margins were down 11 basis points to 25 percent, including a five-basis-point decline in the United States. Operating margins fell to 4.9 percent from 5.1 percent, and U.S. operating expenses rose 3.9 percent.

    Online sales growth outpaced the industry at 60 percent but decelerated from the 63 percent increase in the previous quarter. That business added 70 basis points to comparable sales.

    Wal-Mart raised the low end of its earnings outlook for the full year to $4.30 per share from $4.20, excluding items, while keeping the high end at $4.40.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-wa...-idUSKCN1AX172

  5. #5
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    Digital investments help lift Walmart’s quarterly sales

    Anna Nicolaou
    2017-08-17

    Walmart’s digital investments continued to pay off in its latest quarter, lifting online sales and broader revenues for the world’s largest retailer.

    The Arkansas-based retailer, which bought ecommerce start-up Jet.com last year, said its US online sales rose 67 per cent on the same period in 2016. Walmart also said on Thursday that like-for-like sales rose 1.8 per cent — the 12th consecutive quarterly increase.

    This was the company’s first earnings report since Amazon unveiled plans to buy Whole Foods, rattling the grocery sector and sending shares in Walmart, Kroger and other grocers sharply lower in June.

    Analysts expect Walmart’s profits to remain squeezed as it cuts prices to preserve market share, particularly in the cut throat grocery sector, from which it derives more than half of its sales. Overall, the company reported adjusted earnings of $1.08 a share, a shade above consensus estimates for $1.07 cents a share. Revenues rose 2 per cent to $123.4bn, compared to forecasts for $122.8n.

    Doug McMillon, chief executive, called it “another solid quarter”, noting that Walmart has lured more customers to its stores, with foot traffic rising 1.3 per cent.

    Walmart’s share price suffered in the week following Amazon’s announcement, but has since recovered, with the stock up more than 17 per cent this year. Shares slipped 1.2 per cent in premarket trading.

    “Explosive online growth is continuing its post-Jet.com trend, and we expect this level of performance to continue, along with Walmart’s ongoing efforts to leverage Jet by making tactical pure-play online acquisitions similar to the recent Bonobos deal, and therefore put itself in the solid number 2 position behind Amazon in most online categories,” said analysts at Moody’s.

    https://www.ft.com/content/1f0f6820-...3-5359d8777cd2

  6. #6
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    With Amazon looming, Walmart tout surging online grocery sales

    Walmart poses a huge threat in online grocery because its stores are located within 10 miles of about 90% of Americans.

    Discount grocery chain Aldi and German chain Lidl which are also expanding in the U.S.

    Charisse Jones and Nathan Bomey
    Aug. 17, 2017

    Walmart said Thursday that it's delivering online grocery orders from more than 900 stores with "strong results" in the early going, as the company's rivalry with Amazon intensifies following the online giant's acquisition of Whole Foods.

    Amid speculation that Amazon will use Whole Foods' network of 468 stores to expand its grocery delivery service, Walmart said Thursday that it would expand its own service to 1,100 locations by the end of this year.

    Greg Foran, Walmart U.S.'s president and CEO said that the company will "watch closely'' if Amazon ramps up its online grocery business. But he says he welcomes the competition, not only from Amazon but other potential rivals, such as discount grocery chain Aldi and German chain Lidl which are also expanding in the U.S.

    "In order to do well in a market that's improving you have to perform better yourself,'' he said in an earnings call with media Thursday.

    Walmart, which is the largest U.S. company by revenue and still more than three times larger than Amazon, poses a huge threat in online grocery because its stores are located within 10 miles of about 90% of Americans.

    During the company's second quarter, strong grocery sales overall gave Walmart a lift. The retail giant said its grocery sales enjoyed their strongest quarterly growth rate in five years,

    But a decline in profit interrupted a streak of momentum for the retailer, whose rising sales and customer traffic in recent quarters have encouraged investors as other retail giants continue shrinking, including department-store chains J.C. Penney and Macy’s.

    As traditional retailers are struggling to compete with Amazon, and to lure shoppers away from the keyboard and through their doors, Walmart has remained resilient. From July 20 through Aug. 3, the retailer's stock enjoyed its longest rally in 22 years when it rose for 11 trading days in a row.

    The gains reversed Thursday in pre-market trading, as Walmart's stock fell 2.2% to $79.20.

    Overall, revenue rose 2.1% to $123.4 billion, besting S&P Global Market Intelligence expectations of $121.9 billion. Sales at Walmart U.S. stores open at least a year rose 1.8%, meeting projections.

    But net income tumbled 23.2% to $2.9 billion, or 96 cents per share, missing projections of $3.2 billion and $1.06 per share. That decline reflected a 17 cent charge related to the dispatching of debt. Adjusted earnings were $1.08 per share.

    Investors are watching closely to see if Walmart can continue its digital momentum. The company has been on a buying spree, building a portfolio of websites that serve niches while matching Amazon's offers of free shipping and leveraging its 4,500 physical stores.

    Walmart is testing employee delivery of Walmart.com orders "in a few stores" and will have 100 "automated pickup towers in stores" by the end of the year, McMillon said.

    In June, Walmart bought premium menswear seller Bonobos for $310 million. Previously, it purchased online marketplace Jet, footwear site ShoeBuy, outdoor gear seller Moosejaw and women's clothing site ModCloth.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/money...ngs/569634001/

  7. #7
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    Amazon’s private label business is booming thanks to device sales, expanded fashion

    Sarah Perez
    2017-08-16

    Amazon has been doubling down on its private label business in recent months, though many of its own brands aren’t easily identifiable to consumers as they don’t indicate they’re Amazon-made products. But these private labels have been gaining steam, according to a new report out this week from 1010data. Several Amazon brands have been seeing tremendous growth, it found, including AmazonBasics, kids’ clothing brand Scout + Ro, Amazon Elements, and other Amazon-made devices like Echo, Kindle, and Fire TV.

    The report comes from analytics and insights firm 1010data, which regularly tracks Amazon’s private label business.

    During the first half of the year, Amazon’s private labels accounted for just 2 percent of total units sold, excluding marketplace and subscriptions, but the retailer boosted that figure to 12 percent during Prime Day, the report found.

    Not all that surprisingly, Amazon’s private label line AmazonBasics was the top performer so far this year. This line today includes a wide array of “everyday essentials,” including electronic accessories like HDMI cables and phone chargers, batteries, (non-Alexa) bluetooth speakers, pet supplies, office accessories, and even home goods like bed sheets, bath towels, and knife sets, among other things. In total, it accounts for nearly 2,000 different products, making it Amazon’s largest private label to date.

    According to 1010data, this group of products pulled in over $200 million in sales during the first half of 2017.

    That was closely followed by Amazon’s private label electronics lines, including Echo, Fire TV and Kindle, which pulled in $120 million, $110 million, and $75 million, respectively during the same time frame. Combined, they accounted for 55 percent of Amazon’s private label sales, the report said. Echo was a huge part of this growth trend, with sales doubling year-over-year (up 101 percent); however, Kindle Fire sales have nearly tripled, up 184 percent year-over-year.

    Amazon Elements, which is one of the retailer’s oldest private labels, is best known for its baby wipes, but it recently expanded to include health supplements. The addition seems to have helped, as it was another top performer with $9.5 million in sales during the first half of the year.

    Newer private labels rounded out the top ten. For example, Amazon’s Pinzon bedding and bath products generated $6.6 million, while its snack food line Happy Belly, launched last year, earned over $2 million during this same time frame.




    More recently, Amazon has been moving into the fashion business, with a growing collection of own-label clothing lines. A few of these are already seeing traction. Women’s clothing brand Lark + Ro, men’s dress shirts from Buttoned Down, and staple clothing items from Amazon Essentials all made the top ten.

    Meanwhile, kids’ clothing brand Scout + Ro has seen the most aggressive growth, with a 542 percent increase year-over-year. This growth is tied directly to the line’s expansion – over the past year, the line has grown its product selection by fivefold. Other gaining private fashion labels include men’s shoes Franklin & Freeman and women’s clothing brand Lark + Ro.



    But not all the private labels are seeing increases. Even though bedding and bath brand Pinzon pulled in $6.6 million in the first half of the year, it sold fewer units this year compared with the last, leading to negative 28 percent year-over-year growth.

    The report also dove into conversion rates for Amazon’s labels, and found that Amazon Elements is stealing the show with a 42 percent conversion rate – or four times better than any other Amazon brand.



    The report examined individual SKUs, as well, to see which items were the best sellers among the private labels. Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote came out on top, followed by the black Echo Dot speaker, then several AmazonBasics products. The original Echo and Echo Dot in white also made the top 10. Echo devices’ presence on this chart also isn’t too surprising – these items were Prime Day’s best sellers, it was reported in July.



    Amazon has no intention of slowing its private label business, it seems. A recent Quartz report uncovered a good handful of new trademarks for private label brands that haven’t yet launched on the retailer’s site. The reasoning here is obvious – private labels have better margins, and will increase Amazon’s bottom line.

    The company’s strategy for its private labels differs from brand to brand, however. In some cases, the brands are exclusive for Prime members, while others are broadly available. Brands like Kindle, Echo and Fire are well-known as Amazon products, as are those with “Amazon” in their name. In fashion, Amazon is hiding its association for the most part, beyond the everyday wear found in Amazon Essentials. That’s typical for private label fashion, though – Target and Walmart do the same.

    But Amazon’s advantage over brick-and-mortar stores is that it can promote its fashion labels to shoppers over others, if it chose. It’s also poised to launch Prime Wardrobe, a home try-on service, which rumor has it may integrate with Echo Look. It wouldn’t be surprising to see it also leveraged to push Amazon’s own fashion brands to consumers, either.

    1010data doesn’t specifically detail its data sourcing due to contractual obligations, but it broadly says that its market analysis involves proprietary information arising from tracking consumer purchases offline and online.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/16/am...fashion-lines/

  8. #8
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    Walmart wants to monitor shoppers' facial expressions

    Getting the extra help a shopper needs without having to ask for it is a personal touch that e-commerce can’t offer

    Jefferson Graham
    Aug. 8, 2017

    In the future, Walmart shoppers may not have to ask for help. Just a simple scowl could summon a helpful worker ready to assist.

    A recent patent filing suggests new ways the nation’s top retailer wants to get even closer to its customers: a video system that a system keeps tabs on customers' facial expressions as they move through the store and the movements at checkout lines.

    While Walmart isn't explicit about what it has in mind, and a spokesperson could not be reached for immediate comment, the system apparently envisions using video to scan for customers who are frustrated or unhappy so help can be dispatched. A shopper, for instance, might not be able to find a product or can’t figure out pricing.

    Conversely, store managers could use the system to determine when they have a hit on their hands -- a display or product that delights shoppers.

    In any case, the system, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal, could give Walmart an edge in its battle with Amazon, the online retailer that is eating into profits.

    According to the patent, Walmart says it’s easier to retain existing customers than acquire new ones through advertising.

    "Often, if customer service is inadequate, this fact will not appear in data available to management until many customers have been lost. With so much competition, a customer will often simply go elsewhere rather than take the time to make a complaint."

    The technology would “allow Walmart to respond more efficiently to customer service issues, even before a customer actually complains,” writes Taylor Knight on the Total Retail blog.

    “This is an in-store advantage for Wal-Mart, as it could prevent shoppers from taking to social media to complain about a bad experience with the retailer," Taylor wrote. "Furthermore, getting the extra help a shopper needs without having to ask for it is a personal touch that e-commerce can’t offer.”

    No word on if or when the tech might be tested or deployed.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/money...ons/550671001/

  9. #9
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    Alibaba turned its focus to the offline market since 2015, investing more than US$8 billion in brick-and-mortar retailers such as in the Chinese electronics chain Suning, department store chain Intime Retail Group and supermarket chains Lianhua and Sanjiang. It launched 13 Hema Supermarkets since 2015, which offer what Alibaba calls a “new retail experience” by combining both online and offline shopping features. Users can shop from the comfort of their homes with direct delivery, by linking their Hema mobile app to Alipay, the electronic payment system operated by an Alibaba affiliate.


  10. #10
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    Paul Mozur‏ @paulmozur 5 hours ago

    For all that, [Alibaba's] int'l revenue was just $400 mln, a reminder of how much work they still have to do to compete outside China.

    E o competidor que a Amazon enfrentará

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