Alibaba, Jack Ma and E-Commerce

04/07/2017 2:50 am EST

Focus: GLOBAL

Ian Wyatt

Publisher & Chief Investment Strategist, Wyatt Investment Research

With 1.4 billion people, China is the biggest country in the world. It is also the biggest market for e-commerce, and is growing at 15% to 20% per year, notes growth stock expert Ian Wyatt, editor of Million Dollar Portfolio.

Therefore, it shouldn't be surprising that the world's biggest e-commerce company is also located in China. Alibaba (BABA) is the No. 1 e-commerce company in the fastest-growing market.

The company's founder, Jack Ma, has become the poster boy for successful entrepreneurship in China. The former English teacher visited the U.S. in 1995 and saw the internet for the very first time.

After searching for Chinese beer on the internet, he realized that his country had no internet presence. Jack returned to China and invited 17 friends to join him and start an internet company. Thus, Alibaba was born.

In many ways, Alibaba is a combination of America's top e-commerce companies; it dominates direct-to-consumer online retail, payment processing and online auctions.

In the fourth quarter, Alibaba reported impressive growth in its core e-commerce business. This segment contributes to 77% of the company's revenues. Sales grew 42% to $5.8 billion.The company's marketplaces had 443 million customers. The number of customers grew 9% over the last year.

Alibaba's reach continues to grow as the company launches new initiatives and expands in new markets. One example of this is in cloud computing. At the end of 2016, the company had 765,000 cloud computing customers. Revenues grew 115% from the previous quarter, reaching $254 million.

Alibaba is also expanding with strategic investment and acquisitions. In total, Alibaba has made 59 investments in private companies around the world.

Investors who are interested in pre-IPOs will find is especially interesting that Alibaba is investing in some of Silicon Valley's top private companies. These include investments in Lyft and Snap (SNAP), before it went public.

Here's the bottom line:  China is the biggest and one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the world. Alibaba is the dominant player.

The company is growing revenues at 40% to 50% per year. It's profitable. And it is expanding into new areas with big potential, including cloud computing and online payments. With its p/e ratio, Alibaba stock is cheap relative to its impressive growth rate. 

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