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China’s JD.com cashes in on steady online demand, beats market expectations

JD.com’s fourth-quarter revenue beat expectations on Thursday as more shoppers flocked to its website on the back of a broader shift to online shopping triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

While China has largely emerged from coronavirus lockdowns with most businesses resuming production, JD.com’s domestic consumers continue to shop online for everything from daily groceries to luxury products.

The Beijing-based company posted revenue of 745.8 billion yuan (US$114.97 billion) for the year, beating analysts’ estimate of 740.81 billion yuan.

In a pandemic-struck year, during which retail sales fell 3.9 per cent in China, JD.com’s strategy of ramping up its in-house delivery network enabled faster deliveries.

The company has also been working to expand into price-sensitive lower-tier cities through its shopping platform Jingxi in a bid to stave off stiff competition from rivals like Alibaba and Pinduoduo that are equally popular.

As a result, JD.com raked in 110 million new active customer accounts during the year. Meanwhile, Jack Ma’s Alibaba added about 68 million active buyers in the same period.

The US-listed shares of the company, which have been volatile as China looks to tighten scrutiny on its tech giants, were up 3 per cent at $91.98 in early trading.

The world’s second-largest economy has vowed to strengthen oversight of its big tech firms, which rank among the world’s largest and most valuable, citing concerns they have built market power that stifles competition, misused consumer data and violated consumer rights.

The long-term impact of this on JD.com’s business, though unclear, remains a threat. In late December, regulators fined the company, along with Alibaba and other e-commerce sites, 500,000 yuan for engaging in irregular pricing.

The company’s net revenue rose 31.4 per cent to 224.3 billion yuan in the quarter ended Dec 31, beating analysts’ estimate of 219.73 billion yuan, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

($1 = 6.4867 Chinese yuan renminbi)

  • Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru and Josh Horwitz in Shanghai; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri

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