Alibaba came out swinging against a Barron’s cover story that contended the Chinese e-commerce company’s stock could fall an additional 50% beyond 2015’s steep drop.
Barron’s, a business publication owned by News Corp (NWSA) pointed to concerns about China’s struggling economy, competition from other e-commerce rivals, and questions the accuracy of some of the claims Alibaba has made about user count and average shopper spending. And while nearly all analysts that cover the company still have a “buy” rating on the stock with an average price target of $95.50 – Barron’s thinks a decline of up to 50% is more likely.
The store sent Alibaba’s shares (BABA) lower in Monday trading. The stock, which traded above $100 when the company went public at the beginning of this year, is now trading at around $62 apiece. If the price were to slip 50% from today’s levels, the company would lose about $80 billion in market value.
In a blog post addressed to editor Edwin Finn, Alibaba refuted much of the Barron’s thesis. “We take strong issue with the reporting about the state of our company, and we feel compelled to set the record straight,” wrote Jim Wilkinson, Alibaba Senior Vice President, International Corporate Affairs.
Wilkinson outlined a handful of rebuttals. He lamented a PE multiple comparison to eBay (EBAY) rather than Chinese Internet giants, questioned the validity of research conducted by the Financial Times, and stood by the company’s financials and operating metrics. Alibaba also requested a correction to the story.