2020 has been a challenging year for U.S.-listed Chinese stocks amid the COVID-19 outbreak, ongoing trade war, and the threat to delist Chinese companies from U.S. exchanges. Still, all these issues have not stopped JD.com (JD -3.18%), a leading e-commerce company in China, from delivering a market-beating 131% jump in its stock price so far in 2020.
Main drivers for strong price performance
Though many factors could have contributed to the stock price performance, two stood out.
First of all, JD has excelled during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is reflected in its first-half 2020 performance. Net revenue came in 28% higher, thanks to stronger performance across its products revenue (up 27%) and service revenue (up 34%). Perhaps even more impressive is that operating income more than doubled, landing at $1 billion, on the back of revenue growth and higher margins. As JD spreads its fixed cost among a larger sales volume, there is a lower fixed cost per unit of sales.
JD's strong performance validates the strength of its integrated business model: a one-stop e-commerce platform offering a wide range of products, which is supported by its own logistics network. Such a business model appeals to customers since it covers all three important aspects of retailing: price, selection, and convenience. Customers voted with their wallets, which resulted in a 30% surge in annual active customers to 417 million in the 12 months ended June 30.
Secondly, JD plans to bring public via initial public offering its business units JD Digits, JD Logistics, and JD Health in the near future, which helped pushed JD's stock price up as investors and analysts got access to more information about the units. For example, from JD Digits' IPO prospectus -- prepared for its listing in Shanghai -- investors learned that revenue rose by a compound annual growth rate of 42% between 2017 and 2019. With this new information, investors can now value JD Digits as a separate fintech company and assign the appropriate value to JD's stock.
Historically, JD has demonstrated its ability to grow at high rates -- revenue rose 219% between 2015 and 2019 -- by growing its e-commerce business, as well as incubating newer ventures like JD Digits.
JD is not resting on its laurels. It is actively investing in new shopping formats such as social and live-streaming to grow its retailing business and also investing heavily to scale its smaller businesses like JD Health.
Though some of these investments might not be fruitful, there's a good chance that a few will be and, if history is any guide, those should be enough to sustain JD's long-term growth, and, ultimately, its share price performance.