JD.com Inc. reported quarterly profit that fell short of analyst expectations as the Chinese online shopping giant ramps up the construction of physical shops and warehouses amid rising competition from
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Adjusted earnings-per-share were 0.71 yuan (11 cents) in the three months ended March, missing the 0.81 yuan average of analyst estimates. While sales for the quarter rose 33 percent to 100.1 billion yuan, topping projections for 99 billion yuan, it was the slowest growth on record.
JD is locked in an arms race with Alibaba to invest billions of dollars in retail and logistics to win over consumers at home and across Southeast Asia. The competition is unlikely to slow down as both online giants build high-tech supermarkets and other stores that act as shopping hubs and distribution points for web orders.
The American depository receipts fell 2 percent in early trading in New York to $37.95.
Net income for the quarter was 1.52 billion yuan, compared to analyst estimates for 243 million yuan, which the company said was largely due to changes in the fair value of investments.
“It was pretty much in-line,” said Kirk Boodry, an analyst at New Street Research, who added that one-time profit boosts from investments wouldn’t move the share price. “Gross margins are down but markets already knew that was coming.”
Chief Executive Officer Richard Liu’s strategy is to develop JD’s delivery networks to maintain better control of inventory and services. The company had 515 warehouses and more than 163,000 employees as of March 31, compared to the 63,809 workers at Alibaba.
JD forecast revenue for the current quarter of 120 billion yuan to 124 billion yuan, compared to the 122.4 billion yuan that analyst expect.
— With assistance by David Ramli