Profits at Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce and media conglomerate, more than doubled in the three months to December 2022 to reach $6.63 billion (RMB45.7 billion), on revenues that increased by 2% to $35.9 billion (RMB248 billion).
The figures, which constitute the third quarter of Alibaba’s current financial year to end March 2023, represent a significant rebound after two difficult quarters. Alibaba’s aggregate net profits between April and December are still down by 32% at just $6.32 billion, compared with the equivalent nine-month period in 2021.
The group portrayed the results as “solid [..] despite softer demand, supply chain and logistics disruptions due to impact of changes in COVID-19 measures,” and said that China’s improving macro-economic outlook will help it recover further.
Alibaba said that its Youku video streaming platform cut its losses for the seventh consecutive quarter. But it specified neither Youku’s quarterly revenues or losses, nor its latest subscriber total. Instead, it reported: “In the December quarter, Youku’s daily average paying subscriber base increased 2% year-over-year, primarily driven by quality content and continued contribution from our 88VIP membership program. Youku continues to improve operating efficiency through disciplined investment in content and production capability.
The wider digital media and entertainment unit — which also spans a web browser, cinema ticketing platform, film production and distribution and Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post English-language newspaper – recorded revenues down by 6% at RMB7.58 billion but operational losses reduced from RMB2.13 billion to RMB1.02 billion. Using Alibaba’s preferred adjusted EBITA analysis, the digital media and entertainment division’s net loss was a negligible RMB25 million ($4 million), compared to a loss of RMB1,374 million in the same quarter of 2021.
The digital media and entertainment division had also been responsible for a RMB25 billion goodwill impairment in the equivalent quarter of 2021. That burden was not present in the latest quarter and significantly helped the group-level presentation.
The results were reported after the close of share trading in Hong Kong on Thursday and before the start of business in New York, where Alibaba’s shares are also traded in ADR form. The ADRs initially surged but then fell 0.64% to $94.16 on Thursday.
By the Friday lunchtime trading break in Hong Kong the shares had slipped more than 3% to HK$91.65. For the Hong Kong-traded shares, that price represents a 3% gain in 2023, but a 12% decrease over a 12-month period.