Alibaba Company Analysis

Alibaba company analysis

This is my Alibaba company analysis. It is a checklist style analysis, which helps me to answer questions about a company. I have not completed my research on Alibaba, so this analysis will change as I perform more research. I believe I have done enough research to have an opinion on Alibaba for myself though.

All of these questions were answered by following the investment guide I created. If you would like to follow my guide for yourself and know where to find the answers for completing an analysis of a company, you can check out my post “Company Analysis and Investment guide” or download the investment guide.

All of these questions come from the company analysis checklist I created. If you would like to use this checklist, you can check out the same post, “Company Analysis and Investment Guide”, or download the company analysis checklist.

Where I Found the Information

I found the information below by reading the most recent 20F (it’s a long one), I found 4 long and 2 short analyst reports (some were on Youtube), 1 news article per month for the last 12 months, I read a few of the 6Ks (there are a lot more than an American company with 10Qs), the latest earnings call transcript and listened to it on EarningsCast, 1 positive article on the CEO and listened to podcast #3 – “Alibaba: A Giant Among Giants” by Business Breakdowns.

I have to do more research on Alibaba before making my full investment. The next information I will be looking for will be on my investment guide. I have made my first investment and I have to complete the rest of my guide before making more investments. I also found a book to read. It is Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built.

The Company Analysis

Company Name

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Stock Symbol


Today’s Date

May 31, 2021

Where is the Company Headquartered?

Hong Kong, China

How Did I Discover This Company?

Charlie Munger, Greg Alexander and Mohnish Pabrai, 3 of my most favorite gurus, purchased it in quarter 1, 2021. It is tough to find information on Greg. He’s great at keeping a low profile. He is one of Warren Buffett’s three favorite managers he said he would give his money to if he ever retired. The other two managers were Seth Klarman and Li Lu. When one of these investors make a move, I pay close attention.

The Company

Company Overview/Description

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is a holding company that provides the technology infrastructure and marketing reach to help merchants, brands and other businesses to leverage the power of new technology to engage with users and customers to operate. It is the world’s largest online and mobile commerce company, measured by GMV (CNY 6.6 trillion/$1 trillion for the fiscal year ended March 2020). It operates China’s most-visited online marketplaces.

Its Business Segments

The Company operates four business segments. The Core Commerce segment provides China retail. China retail consists of China wholesale (2% of revenue), International retail (5% of revenue), International wholesale (2% of revenue), Cainiao logistics services (5% of revenue) and local consumer services through Taobao Marketplace (consumer-to-consumer) and Tmall (business-to-consumer).

Core Commerce

Alibaba’s China commerce retail division accounted for 69% of revenue in the December 2020 quarter. Taobao generated revenue through advertising and other merchant data services and Tmall derived revenue from commission fees.

Cloud Computing

It also has the leading cloud business in China, which accounted for 7% of revenue. The Cloud Computing segment provides a complete suite of cloud services, including database, storage, network virtualization services, big data analytics and others. As enterprises and SMB’s get digitized in China to go to the cloud from traditional on-premises solutions AliCloud gets $0.40 to $0.50 for every dollar spent on the cloud. The hundreds of future SaaS companies in China will be powered by Alibaba.

Digital Media and Entertainment

Digital media and entertainment platforms account for 4% of revenue. This includes its video streaming platform Youku Tudou, its streaming music platform Alibaba Music, streaming video services for its e-commerce sites (like Tmall TV), its Alibaba Pictures movie division, and its UC web browsers. Alibaba initially created the digital media and entertainment segment to expand its ecosystem against China’s other two tech giants, Baidu and Tencent.

Alibaba’s digital expansion trailed behind Baidu and Tencent. Youku Tudou still ranks third in the streaming video market behind Tencent Video and iQiyi. Alibaba Music is also trailing far behind in the streaming music market. Tencent Music controls about 78% of that market, while NetEase Cloud Music ranks second with a 16% share. Alibaba and everyone else is fighting over the remaining 6%. The UC Web Browser controls 14% of the Chinese web browser market today, which puts it in second place behind Chrome (43.7%). Alibaba Pictures has financed some major film releases, including two Mission Impossible films and Star Trek Beyond.

Innovation Initiatives

Innovation initiatives/other accounts for 2% of revenue. This segment aims to innovate and develop new services and products that can meet the needs of its customers. Past innovations include digital-navigation app Amap and network-communication app DingTalk.

The History of a Great Copycat

It was founded in 1997 by Jack Ma, an English teacher, and almost 20 other cofounders as an online bulletin board that allowed small Chinese manufacturers to tell buyers around the world they were open for business. Alibaba and Tencent are two of the important companies that helped bridge the gap between Old China and New China. It copied American things that worked. Most of its early products were copy cats. It had no reason to innovate. was started as a B2B pathway between merchants and suppliers. It started Taobao, the eBay of China, in 2003. It built Alipay, which was the payment system for Taobao merchants, like Paypal was for eBay. Then it built Tmall by 2008, where brands like Nike, Adidas and local Chinese brands would create shops. It built Alibaba Cloud in 2009 after seeing how Amazon would take that infrastructure and give it to the world. Then they layered on logistics, SaaS applications, home goods, food delivery and so on.

In the early 2000’s, the Chinese people weren’t expecting delivery in 1 day. The standard delivery was 7-10 days. Alibaba’s genius was they took it to 6 days. EBay was in China when Alibaba was built, but by the time positions were routed from Beijing to the Bay area, it was game over for eBay. This is also why Amazon wasn’t successful in China. Alibaba has a history of executing. It has innovated, copied and squashed competitors. It has some techniques that got it into trouble recently, because it’s aggressive in everything it does.

Some things Alibaba hasn’t done as well is buy businesses and invest outside the country.

Reducing friction is probably the #1 reason for business scaling. Alibaba built Taobao by aggregating millions of merchants by taking costs to $0. The ethos in Alibaba is all about platform creation. Take friction to 0, create collective good for everyone, let everyone benefit in the process and be the mega aggregator on top of it.

Some Company Statistics

It is the world’s largest ecommerce business. They have more cash than any competitor in China. The commerce retail division accounted for 69% of revenue with Taobao generating revenue through advertising and other merchant data services and Tmall deriving revenue from commission fees. The average new customer buys $400 year 1 and by year 5, they are buy $2,000 per year.

In 2015, it sold $500 billion in volume through Tmall and Taobao. In 2020, that more than doubled to $1.2 trillion. It is expected to double again to $2.5 trillion by 2025. In 2015, it was 10% of total retail spending in China. In 2020, it was 20% of total retail spending in China. It is expected to be 25% of total retail spending in China by 2025. It is capable of doubling again because China’s GDP is still small compared to America’s GDP and the Chinese middle class is growing.

There were 800 million active customers in 2020 and each person on average bought something twice per week.  These are just discretionary purchases. These aren’t purchases on food or living. Five years ago, it was mostly fashion and apparel. Today, it is in almost every category of Chinese lifestyle. Alibaba’s products affect every part of a person’s life in China, whether they’re a consumer or business. There might not be any other business in the world that has that level of impact on a country.

In 2015, Alibaba was 80% of all ecommerce in China. That’s just not healthy because competition is good. Therefore, Alibaba is likely to lose market share. Just because a company is losing market share doesn’t mean it’s losing relevancy though. Amazon is constantly losing market share to companies like Wayfair and others growing faster than Amazon, but Amazon is still a wonderful company.

Ant Group

Ant Group, an unconsolidated related party, provides payment services and offers financial services for consumers and merchants on Alibaba’s platforms. It is formerly known as Ant Financial and Alipay. It is 33% owned by Alibaba.

Alipay was incubated in Alibaba in the early 2000’s as an escrow mechanism to pay merchants. There was no real closed-loop payment system in China until Alipay. It is the same as eBay needing Paypal by assuring that money transferred only after the consumer seen the product.

Ant Group is likely to grow bigger than Alibaba over time. Ant Group is one of the two defacto ways for consumers to manage their financial lives. It’s the largest money market product in the world, even bigger than JP Morgan. It has wealth management, insurance and lending products. Ant Group has more active users than Alibaba, which means 60-70% of the Chinese population uses an Alibaba service.

The Industry

What Industry is the Company In?

Internet Retail

Do I Think This Industry Will Grow, Shrink or Stay the Same Over the Next 10 Years?

I believe this industry will grow. Some people think in-person shopping will be more of an entertainment experience in 10 years. Shopping malls are already taking a hit. and Alibaba are already 2 of the largest companies in the world. As the world population continues to grow and continues to be provided with internet, more people will shop online from the comfort of their homes.


How Many Gurus Own the Company?

13 total on Dataroma

Guru(s)% of PortfolioLast Reported Price Paid
Greg Alexander20.69%$226.73
Charlie Munger19.02% $226.73
Mohnish Pabrai14.61% $226.73
Thomas Russo2.32% $226.73
Tweedy Browne Co.2.24% $226.73
Leon Cooperman1.20% $226.73


Which Moat(s) Does it Have?

Network effect, economies of scale and a government-protected moat

Explain the Moat(s)

According to one analyst, there aren’t really any historical brands in China, but there will probably be hundreds of new brands over the next 30 to 50 years. He was explaining this as the old China and new China. Alibaba doesn’t really have a brand moat. It doesn’t have a switching moat either, because it is easy to switch and there aren’t high switching costs between internet companies.

Economies of scale and operational processes really matter in China. It is the world’s largest retailer by GMV. It also has the leading cloud business in China. The hundreds of future SaaS companies in China will be powered by Alibaba. Ant Group is likely to grow bigger than Alibaba over time. Ant Group is 1 of the 2 defacto ways for consumers to manage their financial lives. It’s the largest money market product in the world, even bigger than JP Morgan.

Alibaba’s hack for logistics was to build a software on top of all the logistics companies and buy a stake in each company to have soft control of them. That network effect is now so strong that it discourages the attempts of any company to break into the game. The only way to compete with Alibaba in China is to focus on smaller, niche segments and slowly build things over time. Even then, the company has to be ready to offer deep discounts and exponentially lose money for at least a few years.

China has a long history of not allowing foreign companies to thrive in their market at the cost of local companies. So, when a company like Alibaba comes along and showcases a new way to invigorate the economy, the government supports it without reservation. The only threat to it within China has to come from within China. That’s going to be nearly impossible.

Has the Company’s Moat Been Attacked in the Past? How Did it Respond?

It’s aggressive in everything it does. In the past, it has copied and squashed competitors. It has some techniques that got it into trouble recently. About the only way to beat Alibaba is to be more aggressive. Pinduoduo is a company that has accomplished this, but Alibaba hasn’t been drastically affected from this. Alibaba’s financial statements still look great.

The Historical Growth Rates

10 Year7 Year5 Year3 Year1 YearAverage Growth Rates
BVPS Growth Rate62%56%34%35%34%44%
EPS Growth Rate56%30%16%31%9%28%
OCPS Growth Rate59%35%32%21%39%37%
SPS Growth Rate60%44%48%40%52%49%
Average of the Averages40%

What is the 5-Year Analyst Consensus Growth Rate?


Is this Company Capable of Growing at These Rates?

It’s possible that it can grow at 17% for 10 years. I am going to be more conservative and go with a 15% growth rate. Alibaba is expected to lose market share and have slower growth because of its size, but it has many fast growth opportunities with some of its subsidiaries. The growth of the Chinese population, more of the population entering the middle class and China’s GDP being small compared to America’s GDP makes me more comfortable using 15% as a growth rate.

What Kind of Growth is the Company Expecting?

Serve 1 billion consumers in China within 5 years. By 2036, serve 2 billion globally, create 100 million jobs and provide infrastructure to support 10 million small businesses in becoming profitable on its platform.


Who is the CEO?

Daniel Zhang

Is the CEO a Founder, Long-time CEO, Recent CEO Promotion or Recent CEO Hire?

Recent CEO promotion

What is the CEO’s Story?

Daniel was born and raised in Shanghai, where his father worked as an accountant. He earned a bachelors degree in finance from the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. He is also a certified accountant. From 2005 to 2007, he was the CFO of Shanda Interactive Entertainment. Prior to that he was a senior executive of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Audit and Business Advisory Division in Shanghai.

He joined Alibaba Group in August 2007 as CFO of Taobao Marketplace. In 2008, he was appointed chief operating officer of Taobao Marketplace and general manager of Taobao Mall. Under his leadership, Taobao Mall rapidly became one of Alibaba’s most important businesses. When Taobao Mall was rebranded as Tmall and became an independent business unit, he was named president of Tmall. In May 2015, he was named chief executive officer. In September 2019, he was elected chairman of Alibaba.

At Ant Group, he is a member of the investment committee. Cainiao Network, a comprehensive global logistics network, was built by him and he is the chairman. He also leads several of Alibaba’s strategic investments, including Haier, Intime Retail and Singapore Post. At Ant Financial’s investment committee, he is a member and he is a founding member of the Alibaba Partnership.

He is the chairman of Sun Art and also serves on the board of Weibo. In a garage, he worked on the new business Freshippo with a small team. He was part of the team that created Singles Day, which is an online shopping event bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Does the CEO Write Letters to Shareholders?

No, but there is a letter at the beginning of the 20F

Does the CEO Have a Big Audacious Goal or Make Accountability Statements? If so, what?

Serve 1 billion consumers in China within 5 years. By 2036, serve 2 billion globally, create 100 million jobs and provide infrastructure to support 10 million small businesses in becoming profitable on its platform.

Does the CEO Seem Trustworthy?

He has a firm belief that customer value creation should be at the root of all innovation and he wants to build and develop the infrastructure for the digital economy. Alibaba will continue to invest and incubate for the future. He wants Alibaba’s innovations to contribute to a better tomorrow for everyone. He believes that once our society, economy and people’s lives are better, Alibaba will be better.

Return On Equity

10 Year7 Year5 Year3 Year1 YearAverage

Return On Invested Capital

10 Year7 Year5 Year3 Year1 YearAverage

Is ROE and ROIC Increasing, Remaining Constant or Decreasing?


What’s the Current Debt/Earnings Ratio?



Who Are its Top 3 Competitors?

Alibaba has many competitors, because it stretches across so many markets. Tencent, Meituan, Baidu and many more are all competitors, but I am not including them. Most of them compete with a less significant segment of Alibaba or don’t hold enough market share to be considered significant. Meituan is an example.

Every business becomes an omnichannel business when they achieve some scale. No business stays purely digital. Let’s take food delivery in America for example. They start as pure marketplaces, but eventually have to build logistics and a full-stack solution. Meituan is a lot like JD in the way that it’s full-stack and food delivery first. It also moved into hotels and accommodations.

The potential for huge success by Meituan and the disruption of Alibaba is in the same situation we’re seeing with Amazon right now. Amazon was the alpha predator in America when it came to price. It was built on price, selection and convenience. We can get 80% of what we want within 2 days in America from Amazon. Doordash aggregates all the existing retailers and brings it to you within 3 hours. How does Amazon compete with that? This is what Meituan does in China.

The idea of community group buying around food is big in China. Everyone wants fresh food delivered to their home. Meituan, Pinduoduo, Alibaba and Didi all have their own version of this. Meituan comes up with this community group buying strategy and our expectation is Alibaba will just copy it, do an equally good job and provide the same service and quality level for its 800 million users.

It competes with Alibaba on an insignificant level though. The food delivery portion of Alibaba is small. The significant competitors that compete with the core commerce segment of Alibaba are, Pinduoduo and

Company SymbolMarket CapYears To Pay DebtAverage ROIC

Competitor #1: JD.Com

A few years after Alibaba was started, there came about a full stack solution company called JD’s thing was the third-party Taobao marketplace doesn’t stand for trust or quality. It decided to build a first-party marketplace. They also built a high quality self-contained logistics chain, because you can’t control when things are delivered when using thousands of different logistics companies. This forced JD to go to higher margin and AOV products. This restricted its products in the beginning to electronics and apparel.

JD is a first-party, full stack, most Amazon like business in China, but when it comes to technology, JD is inferior to Amazon. Alibaba is much more technologically superior than JD claims to be. JD decided to only focus on the bigger cities, build a full logistics system, stand for trust and quality and be the offline retailer. It understood this meant lower margins, being more cyclical, it wouldn’t offer all categories and scale of uses are lower than Alibaba.

Competitor #2: Pinduoduo

Pinduoduo has more of an advertising model than ecommerce. Pinduoduo competed by practically taking prices to $0. It did this by promoting directly to the manufacturer or distributor. Between a manufacturer and retailer, there are many levels of distributors, like county and city distributors. It cut out the middleman. If you aggregate them on the front-end, like a Groupon, you can build a business around that.

Pinduoduo benefited from the infrastructure that Alibaba built. Alibaba trained merchants for 20 years. Those merchants recognized a new channel, Pinduoduo, and jumped on it. If Alibaba hadn’t educated a country on ecommerce, Pinduoduo probably wouldn’t exist.

Competitor #3:

Some people say Alibaba is the Amazon of China, but some people will disagree. It’s a lot like Google in many ways also. Its original business model is monetizing and advertising. There would be a bigger impact on the Chinese economy if Alibaba died tomorrow than there would be on the American economy if Amazon died tomorrow. is the most Amazon-like business in China.

Risk Factors

What are At Least the Top 3 Risk Factors?

It’s an ADR

You don’t technically own a share of the company. Instead, it is a shell company in the Cayman Islands that shares the profit with Alibaba.

Government regulation

The Chinese government can clamp down on regulation at any time. There is also the threat of the US government delisting Chinese stocks that don’t meet PCAOB standards.


A lot of people distrust Chinese stocks because their financial reports aren’t very trustworthy.

Why are These Risks Unlikely or Manageable?

Large companies with an international presence like Alibaba have a much smaller risk of being fraudulent. It is unlikely that the US government will delist Alibaba for the sake of business. Delisting it would cause a big revenue loss for the NYSE. China doesn’t want to hurt its homegrown ecommerce success story, nor does it want to alienate it from international and domestic investors.

The fact that so many gurus are comfortable putting a good size portion of their portfolio into Alibaba comforts me.


Is There an Event?

There has been a series of events knocking the company lower and lower. China regulators fined the company $2.8 billion after an anti-monopoly case. Sellers knocked BABA lower after the Ant Group IPO was suspended by Chinese regulators. There was fear around the company being delisted from the NYSE. Quarterly earnings were reported lower than expected.

Is the Event Company-Specific, Industry-Specific or Market-Wide?

Company-specific and industry specific

Will This Event Be Resolved Within 3 Years?

The anti-monopoly fine is 4% of the $70 billion in cash Alibaba holds. It made a deal with the Chinese regulators over the Ant Group IPO and restructured. I don’t see the companies being delisted from the NYSE, because it would affect so many Americans. I don’t care about quarterly reports. Some of these issues have already worked themselves out and I believe the rest will be worked out within 3 years.


What “Normal” Year Am I Using to Value the Company?


The Current Price is?


How Many Shares Outstanding?

2.71 billion

What 10-Year Future Growth Rate Am I Using for My Calculations?

15%. It is lower than the analyst and historical, but this will make me feel more comfortable with the company being Chinese and at its size

What is My Future P/E Ratio?


Could I Find the Maintenance Portion of Capital Expenditures or Am I Using 70% of Total Capital Expenditures?

70% of total capital expenditures

Ten Cap Valuation

Operating Cash Flow$231,786.00
Maintenance Capital Expenditures($95,733.40)
Total Income Tax$29,278.00Ten Cap Value$610.08
Total Owner Earnings$165,330.60
Shares Outstanding2,710.00
Owner Earnings Per Share$61.01

Margin of Safety Valuation

EPS TTM or Normal Year$8.47
Future Growth Rate15%
Future EPS$34.27
Future P/E Ratio30MOS Price$127.05
Future Value$1,027.98
Minimum Return Acceptable15%
Intrinsic Value$254.10

Free Cash Flow

Operating Cash Flow$2,182$9,275$14,476$26,379$41,217$56,836$82,854$125,805$150,975$180,607$231,786
Capital Expenditures($172)($2,168)($2,503)($4,776)($7,705)($10,845)($17,546)($29,836)($49,643)($45,386)($136,762)
Free Cash Flow$2,010$7,107$11,973$21,603$33,512$45,991$65,308$95,969$101,332$135,221$95,024
Diluted Average Shares5,078.822,332.002,389.002,332.002,500.002,562.002,573.002,610.002,623.002,668.252,747.75
Free Cash Flow Per Share$0.40$3.05$5.01$9.26$13.40$17.95$25.38$36.77$38.63$50.68$34.58

Payback Time Valuation

Year 0Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5Year 6Year 7Year 8
Operating Cash Flow$231,786.00$266,553.90$306,536.99$352,517.53$405,395.16$466,204.44$536,135.10$616,555.37$709,038.67
Capital Expenditures($136,762.00)($157,276.30)($180,867.75)($207,997.91)($239,197.59)($275,077.23)($316,338.82)($363,789.64)($418,358.08)
Free Cash Flow$95,024.00$109,277.60$125,669.24$144,519.63$166,197.57$191,127.21$219,796.29$252,765.73$290,680.59
Future Growth Rate15%
Total Cash Flow Received$1,500,033.85
Diluted Average Shares2747.75
8 Year Payback Time Value$545.91

What is My Buy Price?

My buy price is $250. $420 is the average of the valuation methods. These valuations were very skewed, so I also added in the payback time valuation provided on the toolbox which gave me an average price of $360. Gurus could have paid up to $270 in quarter 1, 2021. I am going to go more conservative than these valuations and put my buy price at $250, because this is a Chinese company that’s hard for me to understand.

I think the intrinsic value of this company is around $500 and I can tell that it has a great moat to support this value.


Is the Company on Sale?

Yes It is currently on sale

Is it a Buy, Watchlist or Too Hard?


Story Conclusion

This is a hard company for me to understand because it is a Chinese company and has a bunch of subsidiaries. It gives me some comfort knowing that multiple gurus are owners.

I have read that Mohnish Pabrai has close to $1 billion under management (around $700 to $900 million) and even though Dataroma states Alibaba makes up 14% of his portfolio, I think it actually makes up around 5% of his total portfolio. It makes up 14% of his American holdings. I did watch the most recent video posted on his website and he stated that he is still buying into Alibaba.

If the price is still below $250 when next quarter’s 13Fs are released, and gurus are still heavily buying, I will consider making it a larger percentage of my portfolio. As of right now, I feel comfortable putting 5% of my portfolio into Alibaba at a price of $250 or below.

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