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PDD overtakes Alibaba as China’s most valuable e-commerce firm

US-listed shares of Alibaba Group Holding declined on Friday following a Morgan Stanley downgrade on concerns over slower turnaround in its key businesses, hours after PDD raced past its rival to become the most valuable Chinese e-commerce firm.

Alibaba’s stock slipped 3.2 per cent to $72.5, touching a fresh one-year low. The shares are down nearly 17 per cent since the company last month posted in line second-quarter revenue and scrapped plans to spin off its cloud business.

Meanwhile, shares of PDD Holdings have surged this week following stellar quarterly results from the Temu parent. The company closed with a market capitalization of nearly $196 billion on Thursday, surpassing Alibaba’s market value of $190.45 billion.

Morgan Stanley analysts downgraded Alibaba to “equal-weight” from “overweight”, flagging concerns over softness in its customer management revenue and cloud business due to sagging economic recovery in China.

They also noted uncertainties from Alibaba’s decision to scrap the spin-off of its cloud business.

Morgan Stanley cut its price target on the stock to $90 from $110, the second lowest among analysts, as per LSEG data. The downgrade is the third in as many weeks by Wall Street brokerages.

Alibaba’s US shares, down about 18 per cent so far this year, are set for their third consecutive year of losses.

On the other hand, Morgan Stanley named PDD as its top pick in the sector, saying the company is best placed to navigate the current economic environment with its heavy discounting steps.

“We expect PDD to continue to gain share in the domestic market thanks to its favorable business model amid consumers’ behavior shift,” Morgan Stanley’s Eddy Wang noted, adding that its cross-border e-commerce business, Temu, is not fully valued by the market.

PDD shares were down 2.1 per cent at $144.4 but have surged almost 80 per cent in 2023, handily outperforming its peers.

At 21.4, PDD has the highest forward price-to-earnings ratio among rivals including and Vipshop Holdings. Alibaba’s forward PE was 7.62, according to LSEG estimates.

  • Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila ,of Reuters.
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