Even after a partial selloff, Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) remains one of the biggest winners of the second quarter. The Chinese e-commerce mega-firm reported that quarterly sales had jumped by 76 percent year-over-year. Those sales are now approaching the $10 billion-mark.
That gain looks a bit bigger due to the favorable exchange rate. But even denominated in yuan, Alibaba revenues were up at least 60 percent.
The company’s increasing dominance in one of the world’s hottest markets has been no secret, with the share price almost doubling since the start of 2016. Even the most successful companies can see their shares become overvalued. Has that happened in this case?
One of Alibaba’s most impressive qualities has been its ability to gain market share in almost all segments of the digital world. It is the leader in Chinese e-commerce — both for business-to-business and business-to-consumer transactions. Its Alipay system is also the leader in digital payment processing. It has also made successful forays into the world of cloud computing.
Alibaba’s reach into all these sectors has made it one of the world’s leaders in harvesting data, and the only one that is not American. Its only real rivals in the data world are Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN).
No one really knows how valuable a “big data” giant can be — but so far, the sky has been the limit. With operations in more than 200 countries, Alibaba has already surpassed Amazon as the world’s largest retailer.
Alibaba’s Growth Outlook
Alibaba’s revenue from all sources grew by 56 percent from 2016 to 2017. While the company may not be able to sustain that pace, most analysts are quite optimistic about its growth prospects.
One key question is if Alibaba can sustain its expansion rate as it outgrows its home market. Probably not at the torrid pace of the last few years, but it doesn’t have to do that to maintain its position as one of the most valuable companies in the world.
Alibaba has made smart moves to diversify its customer base by striking deals with potential rivals in Europe. The firm just announced a partnership agreement with France’s Bollore Group, which is expected to cover cloud computing, energy, logistics, and new digital technologies.
The recent pullback in the stock price has caused the price-earnings ratio to drop down to 51. That’s not just reasonable for a big data giant — it’s something of a bargain.
Bottom Line on Alibaba
Statistical data has proven that quantitative factors such as financial quality, valuation, momentum, and relative strength can be powerful return drivers for stocks over the long term. According to these indicators, Alibaba stock still offers plenty of upside potential.
The company has access to massive amounts of data from its multiple businesses in areas such as marketplaces, financial services, logistics, cloud computing, media and entertainment, and online-to-offline services. Data is the new oil, and Alibaba owns gargantuan amounts of strategically valuable data.
Besides, the network effect plays a key role in industries such as e-commerce and digital payments. Buyers and sellers attract each other to the leading e-commerce and digital payments platforms, which creates a virtuous cycle of sustained growth and increasing customer value for a market leader such as Alibaba.
As of this writing, the author did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.