BABA Stock: Alibaba Earnings Scream Buy


Alibaba Group Holding (BABA) is having a terrific year. In September, its highly anticipated initial public offering managed to live up to all the hype the preceded it. And this week, as it released its first earnings report as a public company, it managed to wow investors once again.

alibaba stock ipo baba stockNot surprisingly, BABA stock has continued to climb following the Nov. 4 earnings announcement. Alibaba reported that revenue grew a remarkable 54% year-over-year. Meanwhile, adjusted earnings grew a solid 16% from the same quarter a year earlier. As Bernstein Research summed up in the headline of a bullish note on Alibaba stock, “Lots of People Bought Lots of Stuff, The Rest Are Details.”

A few such details were the cherry on top of the bull case, including an acceleration in user growth and gross merchandise volume (GMV), which Bernstein Research described as “remarkable for a business of Alibaba’s size.”

Oh, and mobile monetization increased faster than expected, while non-China retail revenue easily beat estimates.

Another such detail — which the bears did dwell on — was that margins came in worse than consensus. Want details on that point? The Wall Street Journal explained:

“Adjusted, non-GAAP earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were equivalent to 51% of revenue in the quarter, compared with 54% last quarter and 59% a year before. The company attributes the squeeze to several factors, including the costs of consolidating newly acquired business, and investments such as developing a mobile operating system.”

This negative was shrugged off by Bernstein. The firm’s analysts wrote “quarterly fluctuations of margins and monetization rates (and hence revenues) are not great indicators of the long-term trajectory of the business.”

What should be more important to investors is whether the investments in new businesses and a mobile platform will pay off in the long run.

Many analysts agreed with Bernstein’s take on Alibaba stock. Price targets were raised left and right this week. A quick roundup of BABA stock updates:

  • Morgan Stanley is overweight BABA stock and raised the price target from $111.10 to $118.10.
  • Cantor Fitzgerald thinks Alibaba stock is a buy and boosted its price target.
  • Jefferies is bullish with a $118 price target.
  • Brean Capital slapped a buy on BABA and upped its price target from $110 to $115.

Granted, that’s not much upside from where Alibaba stock currently sits —  at $112 in Friday’s trading — but that’s partially just because momentum has been so strong.

In fact, Bernstein is so bullish on Alibaba stock that it’s actually bullish on Yahoo (YHOO), which owns a big chunk of Alibaba. As analysts wrote in the aforementioned research note:

“We think there is upside in Alibaba’s shares (implying upside for Yahoo! shareholders) as we expect GMV/user to revert to growth in the medium term and many of the new and emerging businesses such as cloud, wholesale, and international could create material, under-appreciated upside.”

The rundown: Alibaba stock went public in September at $68 per share and is now about 65% higher. For investors with the risk appetite to keep riding that momentum, it looks like there is plenty of fuel to keep BABA stock chugging higher.

As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. 

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