* Alibaba announces $6 bln share buyback program
* Two-year program replaces existing one
* Revenue in quarter to end-March beats forecasts
* Adjusted EPS 4.35 yuan, vs estimated 4.48 yuan
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By Cate Cadell and Supantha Mukherjee
May 18 Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said
on Thursday it would buy back shares worth up to $6 billion over
two years, as it beat first quarter revenue forecasts but missed
The Chinese company, which is looking to grow its business
beyond e-commerce and is targeting new lines in cloud computing,
big data, entertainment and offline retail, says the repurchase
will replace its existing buyback program.
Alibaba said strength in the Chinese e-commerce market
helped its total revenue rise to 38.6 billion yuan ($5.6
billion) in the quarter to the end of March, versus an average
forecast of 36 billion yuan according to Thomson Reuters
But Alibaba's adjusted EPS (earnings per share) was 4.35
yuan ($0.63), versus estimates of 4.48 yuan.
Alibaba has ramped up expansion outside of China and
consolidated its Southeast Asian retail site Lazada, which it
acquired last year. This included integrating the
Singapore-based platform's payment system, Hello Pay, with
Alibaba's own payment affiliate, Alipay.
It has taken steps to expand its U.S. merchant base over the
past quarter and said it plans to host an event next month,
which 1,000 U.S. businesses are expected to attend.
This U.S. push follows a meeting between chairman Jack Ma
and U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this year, at which Ma
pledged to create one million jobs in the country.
Revenue from Alibaba's core e-commerce business grew by 47
percent to 31.6 billion yuan in the quarter, up from the
previous quarter's growth rate of 45 percent.
Meanwhile net income attributable to shareholders rose to
10.6 billion yuan, up 98 percent from 5.4 billion yuan in the
Its digital media and entertainment business saw an increase
in revenue of 234 percent to 3.9 billion yuan, reflecting the
dividends from the consolidation of Youku Tudou, which Alibaba
acquired for $3.5 billion in October.
Alibaba's cloud business continued its run of triple-digit
growth, recording revenue of 2.2 billion yuan for the quarter,
up 103 percent from a year earlier.
($1 = 6.8908 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Editing by Sam Holmes, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Alexander