Among the Chinese internet players, JD.com (JD) has long been a distant rival to ecommerce giant Alibaba Group (BABA), which is the leading online shopping destination in the country. But as the once-red-hot growth of China ecommerce cools, JD.com isn’t slowing down, which bodes well for its stock.
Thanks in part to an increased focus on appealing more to women, expanding its product line to lure in more wealthy shoppers and trying to stay ahead in terms of the latest and greatest gadgets and food items, the company is outpacing the overall growth of ecommerce in China, reported The Wall Street Journal, citing Robert Hah, a managing director at Accenture Strategy Greater China. Rewind six years and the ecommerce market in China was growing at more than 70%. For 2017, McKinsey & Co. is forecasting growth of 19%. (See also: Forget the FAANGs! These Are Tech's Real Winners.)
Upgrading the Online Experience
In its first quarter, which JD.com reported in May, it reported adjusted earnings of $0.15 a share on revenue of $11.1 billion. Wall Street, at the time, had expected adjusted earnings of $0.01 a share on revenue of $10.6 billion. The company reported annual active customer accounts increased by 40% to 236.5 million and gross merchandise volume was up 42% to $26.7 billion. "The strong results across the board reflect that the Chinese market is embracing our model of a high-quality online shopping experience," said JD Chairman and CEO Richard Liu in a statement at the time. "China's increasingly discerning consumers are migrating en masse to our unwavering vision of online retail that prioritizes quality and user experience above all else." JD.com reports second-quarter earnings on Aug. 9. The stock has been on a tear all year and is up nearly 80% since the start of 2017. (See also: Alibaba, Tencent Benefit From Luxury-Goods Boom.)
Given the uptick in shares, the Journal noted it is around $5 billion below Baidu (BIDU), the Chinese internet search giant, in terms of market value, positioning it to potentially surpass it this year. Tencent Holdings and Alibaba are the other two largest internet players in the country. “JD’s stock gain explains how quickly the ecommerce market is growing in China, versus the search market, which is what Baidu is involved in,” said Richard Ko, a analyst at China Merchant Securities International in the Journal report.
While JD.com started out as a online retailer for electronics, it has been morphing into other areas of retail and has been increasingly selling high-end items on its platform to entice more affluent shoppers. It recently poured $397 million into Farfetch, a U.K. online marketplace for high-end goods, in an effort to capitalize on that growth. Still, despite its red-hot growth in terms of customers and its stock price, Alibaba isn’t losing any sleep over it. A spokesman for Alibaba told the Journal it doesn’t view JD.com as a competitor, given that it has 454 million active buyers collectively spending around $527 billion each year on its shopping platforms.