Friday 22 May 2020 4:31 pm

Alibaba profit tumbles despite Covid-19 lockdown sales boost

Alibaba today reported a plunge in profit during the fourth quarter as investment losses offset a surge in ecommerce sales during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Chinese tech behemoth reported an 88 per cent decline in net income to 3.2bn yuan (£368m) in the three months to the end of March.

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The group said the decrease was primarily due to a net loss in investment income as the Covid-19 pandemic rattled global markets.

But Alibaba’s core ecommerce business benefitted from the coronavirus lockdown, with revenue rising 19 per cent to 93.9bn yuan and millions of people turned to online shopping.

The firm’s cloud computing division also posted strong results for the quarter, with revenue surging 58 per cent.

Overall Alibaba posted revenue of 114bn yuan, up 22 per cent year on year.

While Alibaba’s business was hampered by the pandemic from late January, it said trading had begun to recover in March as China began to reopen its economy.

The company said it expected to generate revenue of 650bn yuan in the 2021 financial year.

“The pandemic has fundamentally altered consumer behavior and enterprise operations, making digital adoption and transformation a necessity,” said Daniel Zhang, chairman and chief executive.

“We are well positioned and prepared to help large and small businesses across a wide spectrum of industries achieve the digital transformation they need to survive this difficult period and eventually prevail in the new normal.”

Alibaba has been expanding into new businesses and technologies to fend off competition from smaller rivals such as and Pinduoduo.

The company hailed an “historic milestone” this financial year as its gross merchandise volume exceeded $1 trillion for the first time.

Alibaba has been thrust into the spotlight this week after the US Senate passed a bill that would require listed companies to certify they are not owned by foreign companies.

Read more: Alibaba beats estimates but coronavirus uncertainty lingers

The bill would apply to all foreign companies but is targeted at Chinese firms, and could lead to Alibaba being blocked from US stock markets.

Chief financial officer Maggie Wu said Alibaba was closely monitoring the bill, adding that the company held itself to the “highest standards of transparency”.