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Alibaba seeks to reassure investors as Beijing's business crackdown grows

Alibaba seeks to reassure investors as Beijing's business crackdown grows

Posted: Aug 3, 2021 8:21 AM
Updated: Aug 3, 2021 8:21 AM

Alibaba sought to reassure investors by unveiling a 50% increase in its share repurchase plans Tuesday while reporting somewhat mixed results.

The Chinese online shopping behemoth has been slammed in recent months by Beijing's widening crackdown on private business, stoking concerns about its future. On Tuesday, it reported a drop in earnings despite an increase in sales.

Net income of 45.1 billion yuan, or about $7 billion, slipped from 47.6 billion yuan it earned a year earlier. But its adjusted earnings were a bit better than recently lowered estimates from analysts. Alibaba's revenue of 205.7 billion yen, or about $32 billion, while up 34% from a year ago, fell a bit short of expectations. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv had forecast revenue would reach 209 billion yuan.

The company tried to assure investors by announcing it will now repurchase $15 billion in shares through next year, up from a $10 billion repurchase plan that had been in place. It also disclosed it had repurchased $3.7 billion worth of its US-traded shares since April.

Alibaba's main business — e-commerce — has held up well during the coronavirus pandemic, soaring as people turn to online shopping to buy things without leaving their homes. The company has also benefited from continued economic strength in China, which averted the recession that pummeled most of the globe last year.

But the prospect of further scrutiny from Chinese regulators looms large.

In May, Alibaba said it posted a loss of about $1.2 billion for its first quarter — a hit that was mainly due to a record $2.8 billion fine that Beijing imposed on the company after accusing it of behaving like a monopoly.

Joe Tsai, Alibaba Group's co-founder and executive vice chairman, played down concerns when the fine was announced, saying that the company was "pleased" that it could "put this matter behind us."

"With this penalty decision, we've received a good guidance on some of the specific issues under the anti-competitive law," he told investors on a call at the time.

Beijing's broader clampdown hasn't let up. Alibaba's New York-listed shares plunged nearly 14% during July as investors grew nervous about Chinese tech, including the ability of such companies to trade outside of China. (Alibaba also trades in Hong Kong; its dual-listing in 2019 was touted as a symbolic homecoming for the company.)

Shortly after ride-hailing giant Didi went public on the New York Stock Exchange at the end of June, Beijing banned it from app stores over cybersecurity concerns. The stock plunged, and is still trading well below its IPO price of $14 a share.

US securities regulators have also expressed concern about future Chinese public offerings, with the Securities and Exchange Commission telling staff last week to ask such firms to disclose more information before trading plans can be approved.

Regulatory scrutiny on a broadening number of industries has also spooked investors. A stock market sell-off last week wiped out hundreds of billions of dollars in market value for several prominent Chinese tech companies, including Alibaba. That came as Beijing issued directives for education tech, food delivery and other sectors.

Chinese state media has since urged investors to stay calm, with one newspaper telling investors to "have confidence in the market."

"A short-term shock does not change the nature of the long-term positive trend," read a commentary published in the Securities Times last week. "China's economy and markets are at an advantage in terms of its width and depth."

-- Chris Isidore Paul R. La Monica, Laura He and Michelle Toh contributed to this report.

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Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 513622

Reported Deaths: 10264
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34892556
DeSoto33234432
Hinds32638641
Jackson24854389
Rankin22507403
Lee16337242
Madison14922283
Jones14113247
Forrest13766259
Lauderdale12270324
Lowndes11305193
Lamar10659140
Pearl River9719244
Lafayette8846143
Hancock7836132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7210138
Monroe7010179
Pontotoc6990109
Warren6863178
Panola6759134
Neshoba6730210
Marshall6678141
Bolivar6445151
Union638297
Pike5928156
Alcorn5879107
Lincoln5530136
George510180
Prentiss503884
Tippah491482
Itawamba4844107
Scott477899
Adams4768125
Tate4756116
Leflore4729144
Copiah456495
Yazoo456491
Simpson4546117
Wayne443072
Covington433695
Sunflower4299106
Marion4277112
Coahoma4237109
Leake413990
Newton395781
Tishomingo383593
Grenada3777109
Stone365866
Jasper340666
Attala338290
Winston317892
Chickasaw315467
Clay312278
Clarke301195
Calhoun285049
Holmes271889
Smith269052
Yalobusha243947
Tallahatchie231553
Greene224749
Walthall221666
Lawrence218740
Perry213456
Amite209857
Webster205348
Noxubee188742
Montgomery181657
Carroll174541
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152939
Kemper145041
Choctaw136727
Claiborne134338
Humphreys131239
Franklin125529
Quitman107628
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65221
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845284

Reported Deaths: 16116
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161552006
Mobile742111380
Madison53307732
Shelby38338368
Baldwin38085589
Tuscaloosa36022641
Montgomery34492781
Lee25562263
Calhoun22586518
Morgan22459406
Etowah20018517
Marshall18782316
Houston17731425
St. Clair16884358
Limestone16148218
Cullman16054303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14989306
Talladega14196299
DeKalb12972269
Walker12030380
Blount10717192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10162194
Coffee9417192
Colbert9342208
Dale9020191
Tallapoosa7256201
Russell708165
Chilton7018170
Escambia6957143
Covington6933195
Franklin6342108
Chambers5784142
Marion5406130
Dallas5285209
Pike5119109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369580
Butler3435100
Marengo342493
Monroe337266
Randolph334867
Pickens333188
Fayette330385
Henry320666
Hale318389
Cherokee317863
Crenshaw260477
Washington257052
Cleburne254460
Lamar251453
Clay250869
Macon244864
Conecuh192862
Coosa185047
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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