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Why Alibaba Stock Was Climbing Today

By Jeremy Bowman - Jan 20, 2021 at 1:48PM

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Founder Jack Ma finally made a public appearance.

What happened

Shares of Alibaba (BABA -0.60%) were gaining today after fears about Founder Jack Ma being "missing" were put to rest when Ma made his first public appearance in three months.

Alibaba had slumped in recent weeks after the Chinese government announced an antitrust investigation into Alibaba and blocked the IPO of Ant Group, Alibaba's former financial subsidiary, in November. Concerns that Ma had mysteriously disappeared had also weighed on the stock, but that is no longer a factor.

As of 12:45 p.m. EST, the stock was up 6.1%.

Jack Ma speaking at a conference

Image source: Alibaba.

So what

Ma, who no longer holds a formal position in Alibaba, made an appearance on video on Wednesday, speaking to a group of teachers. The event itself was unremarkable, but speculation over Ma's whereabouts had gripped much of the business world inside China and out.

In remarks at a conference in October, the Alibaba tycoon disparaged Chinese officials, dismissing finance ministers for having a "pawnshop" mentality and refusing to lend to new businesses and support innovation. The Chinese Communist Party didn't take kindly to those comments and has since cracked down on Ma's investments, blocking the highly anticipated Ant Group IPO and opening an antitrust case against Alibaba.

There had been prior reports that Ma was "laying low" to avoid further public scrutiny, but this is his first confirmed sighting since the October conference.

Now what

Alibaba stock plunged on Dec. 24 after the antitrust investigation was announced, but if you had bought the stock that day you would now be up more than 20% in less than a month. The Chinese tech giant also got a boost last week by a Trump administration decision not to add Alibaba to a Pentagon blacklist, though that decision may no longer be relevant as Trump is no longer president.

The recent volatility in the stock is a reminder that when an outstanding, high-growth business like Alibaba goes on sale, it's probably a smart move to buy the dip.

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