Alibaba, Hit by Covid in China, Posts Slowest Revenue Growth Since IPO
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Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. posted its slowest quarterly revenue growth since it went public in 2014, as China's Covid-19 restrictions and an economic slowdown added to the financial toll of a regulatory crackdown. For the quarter that ended in March, the Hangzhou-based company's revenue rose 9% from the same period a year earlier to 204.1 billion yuan, or $32.2 billion, based on an exchange rate of 6.34 yuan to a dollar that Alibaba used. It posted a net loss of 16.2 billion yuan for the fiscal fourth quarter, compared with a 5.5 billion yuan net loss a year earlier. Alibaba cited price drops in its equity investments in publicly traded companies. For the fiscal year that ended in March, Alibaba posted 853.1 billion yuan in revenue, up 19% from a year earlier. Unlike in recent years, it didn't give a forecast for the current fiscal year, which ends in March 2023. "Since mid-March 2022, our domestic businesses have been significantly affected by the Covid-19 resurgence in China, particularly in Shanghai," Alibaba said. "Considering the risks and uncertainties arising from Covid-19, which we are not able to control and are difficult for us to predict, we believe it is prudent at this time not to give financial guidance."
The Swiss stock exchange lagged behind its European neighbours, gaining only 0.1 per cent to 11,492 points. On the previous day it had held up much better, supported by heavyweights in the SMI that are considered defensive. Among the 20 SMI stocks, there were 14 price gainers and 6 price losers. 27.92 (Tuesday: 34.58) million shares were traded. The daily SMI winner was Richemont (+2.4%). The share is on a recovery course in small steps, after it had fallen sharply on Friday of the previous week after disappointing business figures and also lost value afterwards. To this end, Bryan Garnier has been positive on luxury goods stocks. The analysts believe that the worst should be over in terms of lockdowns in China and that the shares of luxury goods companies are worth a look again. On top of relatively attractive valuations at the moment, the dollar is proving to be a tailwind for the sector.
European equity markets rose on Thursday as investors were relieved by the minutes of the Federal Reserve's (Fed) latest monetary policy meeting. The Stoxx Europe 600 index gained 0.8% to 437.7 points. In Paris, the CAC 40 and SBF 120 climbed 1.8% and 1.7%, respectively. In London, the FTSE 100 gained 0.6% while in Frankfurt the DAX 40 gained 1.6%. Marks & Spencer Group PLC reported Wednesday a swing to fiscal 2022 pretax profit but said profit growth will be harmed this year by its Russia exit and rising cost pressures on consumers. The British retailer posted a pretax profit of 391.7 million pounds ($490.9 million) for the year ended April 2, compared with a loss of GBP201.2 million for the same period a year earlier. The FTSE 100-listed company also swung to a net profit of GBP306.6 million from a loss of GBP198 million for the year-earlier period. Net profit was expected to come in at GBP357.9 million, according to FactSet and based on eleven analysts’ estimates Serco Group PLC said Thursday that it is upgrading its guidance for 2022 as it had a stronger-than-expected performance for the first four months of the year, and noted that its full-year results will now approach levels achieved in 2021. The U.K. outsourcing company said that it now expects to post a reported underlying trading profit of around 225 million pounds ($283 million), which represents a rise in guidance of GBP30 million. The company’s underlying trading profit - its preferred metric, which excludes exceptional costs - stood at GBP228.9 million in 2021.
U.S. stocks rose Thursday, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average notched a fifth consecutive day higher, after strong results from retailers lifted sentiment across the market. Heartening reports from Macy's, Dollar General and Dollar Tree helped counter a gloomier view of retailers last week, when results from Walmart, Target and Kohl's raised concerns that rising costs are eroding profits. The Dow industrials gained 516.91 points, or 1.6%, to 32637.19, off 11% from their January record. The S&P 500 advanced 79.11 points, or 2%, to 4057.84. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 305.91 points, or 2.7%, to 11740.65, helped by gains in shares of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon.com and Tesla. Investors have been considering how the Federal Reserve's plans to tighten monetary policy could weigh on economic growth and the performance of financial markets. Fed meeting minutes released Wednesday showed that policy makers were in agreement for half-percentage point increases in June and July, in line with previous communication. Major stock indexes closed higher after the release. Shares of Williams-Sonoma jumped $15.02, or 13%, to $130 after the retailer posted profits that beat analysts' expectations. Macy's shares climbed $3.71, or 19%, to $22.92 after the department-store chain reported robust sales growth and lifted its earnings guidance. Dollar Tree shares advanced $29.21, or 22%, to $162.80 and Dollar General shares rose $26.79, or 14%, to $222.13 after the discount retail chains beat Wall Street's earnings expectations. It was the best one-day gain on record for both stocks, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
Driven by positive U.S. data, the stock markets in East Asia and Australia are rising strongly at the end of the week. The strongest gain was recorded on the Hong Kong stock exchange, where the Hang Seng Index rose by 2.8 per cent. Here, market participants also speak of a recovery from the recent losses, especially in the technology sector. The Shanghai composite gained 0.5 per cent. A weak trend in Chinese industrial profits in April put the brakes on somewhat. Here, closures in the wake of Covid-19 in Shanghai and other cities weighed on the economy. Profits at Chinese industrial firms fell 8.5 per cent in April after rising 10.6 per cent in March, the National Bureau of Statistics said.
In the bond market, the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 2.756%, from 2.746% Wednesday. Yields rise as bond prices fall.
HSBC lowers Vantage Towers target to EUR 31.50 (32.50) – Hold
CS raises Aviva target to 500 (494) p – Outperform
Citi raises Bayer target to EUR 106 (102) – Buy
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