HONG KONG — China’s vast ranks of consumers are finding ways to spend more money online — and that’s good news for Alibaba.
The Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant that a few years ago led the biggest share listing in the history of the American stock market, on Thursday posted strong profit growth and better-than-expected sales growth for the three months that ended in March. The surge came as Chinese government statistics showed an increase in online retail sales as well as stronger overall economic growth. Robust online activity has helped others as well, with Tencent Holdings, a major rival to Alibaba, reporting a strong rise in profit and JD.com, another rival, posting its first profit.
Alibaba’s results offer a positive sign for those tracking China’s efforts to transform its economy to rely less on government spending and more on American-style consumption. But they also show Alibaba is finding more ways to get the businesses that set up shop on its e-commerce platforms to give it more money.
But there are challenges. The results show Alibaba has a long way to go before it can diversify its business amid expectations that even China’s online sales boom has its limits. And Alibaba is increasingly dipping its toe into American politics at an uncertain time.
Alibaba said its fiscal fourth-quarter profit rose 85 percent to $1.4 billion, thanks to strong sales as well as selling some investments. Sales across its e-commerce businesses rose 47 percent.
While that’s good news for the company, full-year results showed a more complex picture. Alibaba’s…
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