In the face of the COVID-19 sell-off, Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com (NASDAQ:JD) announced a new $2 billion share repurchase program on Tuesday. This comes after the company reported strong numbers for the fourth quarter, with revenue up 26.6% year over year.
In a press release, JD said that the buyback would be financed by its existing cash balance, and it's got plenty. At the end of December, JD had over $9 billion in cash and short-term investments and generated $2.8 billion in free cash flow last year.
A resilient online retailer
Shares of JD.com have remained somewhat resilient amid the COVID-19 crisis. As of March 17, JD stock is down 11% while the S&P 500 is down 29% over the last month. Stocks that are tied to travel or brick-and-mortar stores have been hit hard, as you might expect. But many direct-to-consumer stocks, including e-commerce and other digital-dependent businesses, have outperformed during the downturn.
JD has been able to rely on its self-operated proprietary supply chain and logistics network to keep operating during these turbulent times. The company has delivered medical supplies and over 1 million masks to help fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.
During the last call, CFO Sydney Huang said that JD "has been in a unique position to provide broad product selection and uninterrupted timely service to our customers in most parts of [China], as people turned to e-commerce for daily groceries and other necessities."
JD has regularly announced share repurchases over the last four years, but this latest one is the largest to date. This reflects the company's growth and improving cash generating ability, as well as a sign of confidence for the future.