Shares in JD.com fell 7.4% in US trading on Monday, reflecting concerns that its profit margin is likely to shrink in the fourth quarter, even though earnings for the e-commerce platform exceeded expectations for the third quarter.

Details: JD.com reported net revenue of RMB 174.2 billion ($25.7 billion) in the third quarter of this year, a 29.2% year-on-year increase. This was on par with 28.7% year-on-year growth for the same period of 2019. Q3 revenue was also close to the $25.76 billion that was the average of analysts’ forecasts as compiled by Yahoo Finance.

  • The company’s diluted non-GAAP earnings for the quarter was 50 cents per share, beating the Yahoo analysts’ average of 40 cents per share.
  • The number of the company’s annual active customers increased by 32.1% to 441.6 million in the 12 months ending September 30, from 334.4 million in the same period last year. The figure represents the fastest growth rate in three years, JD chief financial officer Sandy Xu said in the conference call. She noted that lower-tier cities were responsible for about 80% of the more than 100 million customers added in Q3. Despite the growth, JD fell short of Alibaba’s 757 million active users and Pinduoduo’s 731 million for the period.
  • Due to JD’s plans to invest in initiatives like supermarkets and delivery infrastructure, Bloomberg Intelligence analysts expect the company’s operating profit margin to decline sharply in Q4, deepening a seasonal trend observed in 2019. JD’s non-GAAP operating margin slid from 2.2% in Q3 2019 to 0.4% in Q4. Shopping sites in the last quarter of the year typically spend heavily on subsidies and marketing for big promotional events like Singles Day.
  • JD’s cost of revenue increased by 28.5% year on year during Q3, to RMB 147.4 billion, up from RMB 114.7 billion in Q3 2019.
  • JD Plus, JD’s paid membership program, recorded more than 20 million members in October. Individual members typically shop more frequently and spend more than non-members.

Context: JD.com’s gross merchandise volume (GMV) increased 33% year on year to RMB 271.5 billion for the Singles Day period from Nov. 1 to Nov. 11 this year. That compared with Alibaba’s GMV figure of RMB 498.2 billion for the same period.

  • JD Health, the healthcare unit of JD.com, is planning a listing in Hong Kong.

Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.