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Why Alibaba Fell Another 22.7% in November

By Billy Duberstein – Dec 4, 2021 at 3:00PM

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Shares of the Chinese internet leader fell again after it reported soft earnings.

What happened

Shares of Alibaba (BABA 0.44%) fell another 22.7% in November, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The company not only reported underwhelming earnings, but also sold off after China's Cyberspace Administrator asked another company to delist from U.S. exchanges, causing new worries for Chinese stocks like Alibaba that are also listed in the U.S.

An investor cringes at his laptop screen showing a stock price  decline.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

In the quarter ended in September, Alibaba grew revenue 29% and reported earnings per share of $1.74 per American depositary share (ADS). While that revenue figure seems like solid growth, both figures missed analyst estimates -- and earnings even declined amid higher costs. Furthermore, even that nice-looking revenue growth figure was bolstered by an acquisition. Absent that, revenue growth was only 16%.

Even more distressing was that Alibaba's core business -- and its only profitable business as of now -- grew just 3% in the quarter. Sure, the company was lapping a difficult comparison to the pandemic-fueled 2020, but Alibaba also acknowledged in its earnings release that increased competition played a part. China's regulatory crackdown may be fostering increased competition in e-commerce, eating into Alibaba's moat against other platforms.

And the regulations keep on coming. At the very end of the month, China's Cyberspace Administration asked ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing (DIDI -1.62%) to delist from U.S. exchanges over security concerns. At the same time, the Securities and Exchange Commission is preparing rules for Chinese stocks to follow in order to remain on U.S. exchanges.

Both Didi's delisting and the new SEC rules have sparked fears Alibaba could eventually be delisted from U.S. exchanges, causing uncertainty as to what current shareholders of U.S. ADS would do in that instance.

Now what

There is a lot of bad news surrounding Alibaba now, but the stock is undeniably cheap based on current earnings and projections. While the earnings miss is never pleasant, that happens to a lot of stocks, and Alibaba's shares are so cheap right now that the bad news seems factored in.

However, the prospect of delisting is a bigger potential risk for the near term. It is unlikely Alibaba would be ordered to immediately delist like Didi, as Didi thwarted Chinese authorities that had asked the company to delay its IPO.

In contrast, Alibaba has been on the NYSE for years, and the new SEC rules would likely give Chinese companies three years to comply with new audit rules. That would likely delay any potential delisting until 2025, and Alibaba does have a dual listing in both New York and Hong Kong. Those Hong Kong shares may be a better bet for investors who are worried about a delisting here in the U.S.

Billy Duberstein owns shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. His clients may own shares of the companies listed.  The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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