Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, disclosed that its profit nearly tripled in the quarter ended June 30, to $2 billion. Its sales climbed 46 percent, to $2.5 billion, as reported by New York Times
With its latest performance figures, Alibaba is likely to continue to stoke interest in its hotly anticipated market debut.
The stock sale is expected to be one of the biggest ever, raising perhaps $20 billion and signaling the coming-of-age of the Chinese Internet industry as a source of great potential wealth.
Along with the online media conglomerate Tencent and the search engine Baidu, Alibaba has come to dominate its home country's Internet landscape.
Its power and formidable profit margins come from its two big e-commerce markets, Taobao and Tmall, as well as other services like online payments. In short, it is part eBay, part Amazon.com and part PayPal, with a hunger to invest in yet more up-and-coming industries.
Alibaba has enjoyed such great success that its own internal valuations of its shares have leapt enormously over the last three years.
Besides, the company valued recent restricted stock grants at $59 a share, giving itself a value of more than $135 billion.
Analysts and people briefed on the matter have suggested that the coming IPO might ultimately value the company at more than $150 billion.
The disclosure to top precedes the last part of the company's coming-out process. It is expected to announce a slate of important details on its IPO, including the expected price range of its shares and which existing investors plan to sell their holdings, as soon as Tuesday, according to people briefed on the matter, as reported by New York Times.
The company has already secured the ticker symbol "BABA" and will trade on the New York Stock Exchange. During their meetings with Alibaba executives, possible new shareholders are sure to ask more questions on the latest results, which reflect continued financial growth. Perhaps more important, however, the company will be more eager to promote the expansion of its mobile offerings.
Nearly a third of Alibaba's gross merchandise volume, or the value of goods sold on Alibaba's marketplaces, comes from mobile transactions, compared with just 12 percent a year ago. And the number of mobile monthly active users rose 15 percent compared with those in the period a year earlier, to 188 million.
In some ways, the shift represents a lesson learned from the last giant Internet IPO, that of Facebook. When it went public in the spring of 2012, analysts began to question whether the company was adequately preparing for the explosion in smartphones and tablets, while investors appeared lukewarm on the stock.
After all, at the time of its market debut, the site had only begun to show sponsored posts in users' mobile news feeds.
More recently, however, mobile ad revenue accounted for 62 percent of Facebook's total sales as of the second quarter of this year.
Not all the new numbers were rosy for Alibaba. It disclosed that its operating margin fell to 43.4 percent from 50.3 percent in the quarter a year earlier.
And stripping away one-time gains showed a much less drastic jump in operating income, which rose 26 percent, to $1.1 billion.
And Alibaba continued to emphasize that it will keep on spending money on acquisitions in burgeoning new businesses both in China and the United States.
During the last year alone, it purchased one of its home country's most successful soccer teams and a Web browser.
It has also invested in more than a half-dozen American startups, including the messaging service Tango and the car-ride app Lyft.