Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group has announced its sales for the quarter ended March 31 increased to 17.4 billion yuan ($2.81 billion), a year-over-year rise of 45%. The earnings release this morning was coupled with the news that CEO Jonathan Lu will be replaced by current COO Daniel Zhang, effective May 10. Lu will remain on Alibaba’s board of directors as vice chairman.
“Daniel is a proven international business leader and innovator with a strong track record of delivering results,” said Jack Ma, Alibaba Group’s executive chairman. “He has the confidence of our entire management team, and there is no better person to lead Alibaba Group as we embark on the next stage of our growth.”
Alibaba’s quarterly strength was again fueled by new buyers, service fees and digital growth. The number of mobile monthly active users on Alibaba’s platforms jumped 77% to 289 million. Total active buyers increased 37% to 350 million. Alibaba’s gross merchandise volume on China retail marketplaces reached $97 billion for the quarter, a gain of 40%.
Analysts had expected Alibaba to report $2.77 billion in sales, as Wall Street enthusiasm in the firm had dampened of late. Last month, Ma announced the firm would freeze hiring for the remainder of 2015, saying his company had “grown too quickly.” Alibaba has also been under mounting regulatory pressure to rein in the sale of counterfeit goods on its websites. Those factors had pushed growth expectations lower, and Alibaba’s stock (NYSE: BABA) had fallen to a low of $77 per share. This morning, shares have rebounded sharply to $89.
Alibaba debuted on the New York Stock Exchange last September amid great fanfare, launching the largest U.S. IPO in history. By December, Alibaba’s stock price had hit nearly $120 per share before starting a downward trend. The company has executed seemingly countless acquisitions and funding deals of late, most recently investing in Amazon competitor Jet.com and popular messaging app Snapchat.