Alibaba shares moved higher after analysts from two more firms increased their price targets. One believes investors just don’t fully appreciate the company’s continuing ability to outperform at a time when the Chinese economy has not been doing well. The other is convinced that the online retailer’s margin will expand at some point.
These latest price target increases follow a report from MKM suggesting that the stock might hit a new all-time high soon. The shares are hovering not far below their 52-week high of $109.76, but the all-time high is around $115.
Investors underappreciating Alibaba’s ecommerce path
In a report dated September 22, UBS analyst Erica Poon Werkun said she increased her price target for Alibaba stock from $107 to $124 per share and reiterated her Buy rating. She notes that the macro environment in China has indeed been sluggish but adds that Alibaba has been consistently growing over the last few quarters. Mobile take rates surpassed desktop rates for the first time in the first fiscal quarter.
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Compared to Alibaba’s global peers, she sees room for upside in take rates because currently the company’s rates are below those of its peers in similar third-party marketplace. She believes that as consumers continue to adopt both digital and mobile shopping, those take rates should rise. Also cross-border transactions and improvements in traffic conversion should boost the take rates as well.
Additionally, she sees a “long runway” in the area of monetization for brand advertising. She explains that this should address questions about user engagement across Alibaba’s platforms. Werkun feels that investors now have “more reasonable” expectations in the area of sustained growth, but she also believes that many are still skeptical about how its efforts, especially in the area of monetization, will evolve in a backdrop in which gross merchandise volume is moderating or even declining.
Alibaba starting to see investments pay off
The UBS analyst also pointed out that Alibaba is starting to see its investments in the cloud and media pay off, and she categorizes these areas as medium- to long-term growth. She feels that the Chinese company’s cloud capabilities compare “favorability” with those of Amazon and Google even though the company is still in the early stages of adoption and has yet to see major improvements in profitability.
On media and entertainment, she cites a recent survey conducted in collaboration with the UBS Evidence Lab which covered about 3,000 Chinese consumers. The survey found that adoption of online video is rising.
Also consumers are becoming increasingly willing to pay for online video content.
They’re also showing a higher tolerance for advertising.
Alibaba price target increased by Stifel also
Stifel analyst Scott Devitt also raised his price target for Alibaba, moving from $104 to $125 and maintaining his Buy rating in a report dated September 21. However, he added that his sum-of-the-parts analysis suggests the company is worth $132 per share.
After analyzing the new segment breakdowns showing the cloud segment’s and media and entertainment segment’s profitability, he is now more confident that Alibaba’s margins will expand in the intermediate to long term.
Like Werkun, he believes Alibaba’s core business will benefit from improvements in mobile monetization and engagement as it moves into new regions and product categories. He also expects the losses in the non-core businesses to fall as the company leverages the data from its core ecommerce business for the new segments to scale them efficiently.
Shares of Alibaba rose by as much as 2.14% to $108.27 during regular trading hours on Thursday.