Stocks to sell

The stock of leading Chinese technology firm Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) is so beaten down that it’s starting to resemble a Greek tragedy.

Alibaba Group (BABA) headquarters sign located in Hangzhou China

Source: Kevin Chen Photography / Shutterstock.com

At $162.86 per share at the start of Sept. 14, BABA stock is nearly 50% below its 52-week high of $319.32 reached just before Halloween last year. Since then the company’s shares have steadily and consistently fallen as Chinese authorities have singled out the e-commerce and artificial intelligence company for one humiliation after another. The latest indignity has Alibaba agreeing to pay $15.5 billion to the newly created “common prosperity development fund” that the Communist government has established to address wealth inequality in the country of 1.4 billion people.

Alibaba’s donation to the Common Prosperity Fund follows a record $2.8 billion fine levied against the company in April for practices the Chinese government viewed as anticompetitive. All this as Alibaba founder and Chief Executive Officer Jack Ma continues to basically live in hiding while regulators and politicians in Beijing focus their concerns about the technology sector on the company he founded out of his apartment back in 1999. With the stock continuing to slide and down 15% in the past month, the question is: how bad will things get before shares of BABA finally hit rock bottom?

Wood and Cramer Hate BABA Stock

You know it’s bad when Ark Invest’s Cathie Wood is selling your stock. The notorious technology bull has continued to buy shares of beaten down and distressed technology stocks throughout this year, ranging from internet-connected TV company Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU) to cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase (NASAQ:COIN). However, one of the few stocks Wood’s investment firm has been actively selling is Alibaba. Wood most recently sold 660 BABA shares in early September estimated to be worth about $115,000. Ark Invest now owns only 40 shares of Alibaba stock across its various exchange traded funds (ETFs).

Wood isn’t the only high profile investor who has been throwing BABA stock overboard in recent months. CNBC commentator Jim Cramer has been warning investors to treat Alibaba and other Chinese technology stocks like the plague and stay away. The fact that U.S. market regulators have been musing publicly about potentially delisting Chinese stocks from American exchanges is another reason for investors to be extremely cautious when it comes to holding Alibaba shares in their portfolios.

Poor Earnings Performance

Alibaba announced earnings for its fiscal first quarter of 2022 in mid-August. While the earnings contained some interesting and positive tidbits, they underwhelmed as a whole. The headline was that the company’s net income fell 8% to $6.6 billion in the quarter. Notably, growth decelerated in Alibaba’s core e-commerce business as it faces rising competition from JD.com (NASDAQ:JD) and other Chinese online retailers. Alibaba’s growth engine remains its online retail business and any prolonged slump in this area portends bad things for the company.

If there was a silver lining to be found in Alibaba’s latest earnings report it is that the company’s cloud computing segment reported revenue of $2.5 billion, up 29% from a year earlier. On an adjusted EBITDA basis, Alibaba Cloud turned profitable in the latest quarter, posting a profit of $52.5 million versus a net loss a year ago. The cloud business becoming profitable is significant as analysts view it as having the potential to one day become Alibaba’s primary revenue generator. Future scaling of Alibaba’s cloud business should lead to improved margins and profitability for the company.

Do Not Buy BABA Stock

Cloud computing remains a lone bright spot in an otherwise endless winter of darkness for Alibaba. The company has had the misfortune to become a whipping post for Chinese authorities intent on reigning in the private sector and technology companies in particular. As a result, investment sentiment towards the company has turned sour and shows no signs of improving anytime soon. While a select few Chinese technology stocks, such as Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), have reversed course and are now trending upwards, this is not the case with BABA stock.

Add in the fact that growth in Alibaba’s core online retail business is slowing and the U.S. government is considering removing all Chinese domiciled companies from American stock exchanges, and it is hard to see much reason at all for buying Alibaba stock at its current price. Investors searching for growth stocks at fire sale prices should at least wait until it becomes clear that Alibaba’s share price has finally hit rock bottom before taking a position. Right now, BABA stock is not a buy.

On the date of publication, Joel Baglole held long positions in BABA and BIDU. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Joel Baglole has been a business journalist for 20 years. He spent five years as a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal, and has also written for The Washington Post and Toronto Star newspapers, as well as financial websites such as The Motley Fool and Investopedia.

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