Alibaba shares surge after CFO’s forecast literally causes investors to gasp

Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma

Pichi Chuang | Reuters
Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma

Alibaba‘s annual investor day has Wall Street absolutely overjoyed.

Shares of the e-commerce company’s stock soared more than 10 percent in early U.S. trading Thursday, after management upped its outlook for Alibaba’s revenue growth for the full year.

The Chinese conglomerate is now forecasting total sales growth of 45 to 49 percent this year, a target that tops analysts’ expectations by 10 percentage points. The new forecast on Wednesday from the CFO drew “gasps of wow” from investors at Alibaba’s Hangzhou headquarters, The Financial Times reported.

“The company will continue building its ecosystem based on data technology with core businesses supported by payment, logistics, data management platform and cloud,” Jefferies analyst Jessie Guo wrote in an updated note to clients.

Guo maintains a buy rating on Alibaba shares, with a price target of $122. The stock closed Wednesday at $125.64 a share.

As of Wednesday’s close, shares of Alibaba had climbed more than 40 percent this year, and the stock is up a whopping 62 percent from a year ago.

BABA 12-month performance 

Source: FactSet

Alibaba’s latest guidance puts the company on track for its best yearly jump in sales, CFO Maggie Wu told a packed audience at the company’s investor day, the FT reported.

Last year revenues increased by 56 percent, including Lazada, a Southeast Asian e-commerce group that was consolidated into Alibaba’s numbers from April. Stripping that division out drops last year’s growth to closer to 44 to 45 percent, Wu went on.

Meanwhile on Thursday, shares of Yahoo climbed more than 10 percent. Yahoo still has a 15 percent stake in the Chinese-based company.

Alibaba CEO Jack Ma boasts the title of China’s richest man, and last year the Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into how his company was accounting for its Cainiao Network logistics business and into previously unaudited gross merchandise volume numbers.

According to the FT, Wu didn’t discuss gross merchandise volume numbers in her presentation this week, and Alibaba no longer announces these figures on a quarterly basis.

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