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Sydnee Gatewood
Sydnee Gatewood
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Daniel Loeb Comments on Alibaba and JD.com

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August 06, 2020 | About:
Alibaba & JD.com

During the quarter, we took advantage of jitters about China’s relationships with Hong Kong and the U.S. that created an air pocket in trading of Chinese‐related shares to establish new positions in e‐commerce leaders Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) and JD.com (NASDAQ:JD). As we have articulated in prior letters3, our outlook for Alibaba and the broader Chinese e‐commerce market is bright. We believe online gross merchandise value (“GMV”) will grow at a mid‐teens CAGR over the next five years, propelled by both (1) rising consumption per capita, as the Chinese retail market is equal in size to the U.S. despite four times as many consumers, and (2) increased penetration of retail by online, a trend which we believe has been structurally accelerated by the COVID‐ 19 pandemic.

As the e‐commerce market matures, we believe Alibaba & JD will leverage scale and growing repositories of transaction data to increase monetization of their platforms through targeted advertising to improve revenue yields (revenues as a percentage of GMV) from a starting point of less than 4% today. As a point of comparison, brick‐and‐mortar retail store rent expenses in China are greater than 10% of sales on average, which provides a significant umbrella for online marketplaces to take a greater share of GMV through a combination of commission and advertising spending as online retailer cost structures converge with brick‐ and‐mortar retail.

Finally, we continue to be excited about the latent potential in some of Alibaba’s businesses beyond the core e‐commerce marketplaces – particularly the cloud computing business, Aliyun. China’s cloud computing industry remains nascent but is growing nearly 3x faster than its developed market counterparts through a combination of rising IT intensity, rapid cloud penetration, and a gradual moderation in software piracy. Within that market, Aliyun is increasingly dominant (with nearly 50% market share) and will generate dramatic profit growth as margins expand with scale. As one reference point, Aliyun today resembles Amazon’s AWS business five years ago; this is an encouraging comparison given that today, AWS’ operating profits (and estimated enterprise value) exceed Alibaba’s business in its entirety. Ant Financial – in which Alibaba holds a ~30% stake that is worth roughly $70 billion – has announced its intention to go public later this year. Alibaba shares will benefit further should they become accessible to mainland Chinese investors through inclusion in the Southbound Connect.

From Daniel Loeb (Trades, Portfolio)'s Third Point second-quarter 2020 investor letter.

About the author:

Sydnee Gatewood
I am the editorial director at GuruFocus. I have a BA in journalism and a MA in mass communications from Texas Tech University. I have lived in Texas most of my life, but also have roots in New Mexico and Colorado. Follow me on Twitter! @gurusydneerg

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