Alibaba Seeks Blockbuster IPO, But How Much Is It Worth?

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AP
By Dhara Ranasinghe
@DharaCNBC

Alibaba has finally filed for a U.S. initial public offering that will see it become the largest Chinese firm to list in New York. The question now is how much will the e-commerce giant be valued at when it starts trading.

Recent estimates put Alibaba's value between $150 billion to $200 billion. That suggests the IPO could raise up to $15 billion, making it one of the biggest tech IPOs since Facebook (FB) listed its shares in 2012.

"There's going to be no trouble at all with this thing having a market cap of over $200 billion in my opinion after looking at the numbers. And there's a fair chance that in three or four years, it could be the most valuable company in the world," said Larry Haverty, a portfolio manager at Gabelli Funds.

"Alibaba is a one-off," he added. "U.S. investors have rarely seen a company with these kinds of growth characteristics. You have massive scale and profit growth and enormous market share."

After weeks of anticipation, Alibaba late Tuesday filed for a nominal $1 billion initial public offering, or IPO. The ultimate offering is expected to be much higher.

The company, co-founded by former English schoolteacher Jack Ma, had listed revenue of $5.66 billion and net income of $2.85 billion for the nine months that ended Dec. 31.

It handled over 1.5 trillion yuan, or about $248 billion, of transactions for 231 million active users across its three main Chinese online marketplaces last year, more than Amazon.com (AMZN) and eBay (EBAY) together, according to Reuters.

Tech Backdrop

Still, Alibaba's U.S. trading debut will take place at a time when high-flying stocks such as Twitter (TWTR) have fallen back to earth.

"The big guessing game is the valuation of the company when it starts to trade. Most people believe this is a company that is worth between $150 and $160 billion," Eric Jackson, founder and managing partner at Ironfire Capital in Toronto, told CNBC.

"It's a one-in-10-years company. In some ways people will look past the macro-environment of the moment or sell-off in momentum stocks and see this company as a unique, high–growth company," he added.

Its platforms allow customers to buy and sell anything from luxury leather jackets to prefabricated container homes.

"We are witnessing a lot of weakness in social media stocks in the U.S. and that highlights the fact that promises and expectations are not the same as profits. And here you have a company with strong profits and it's only going to continue to expand," said David Joy, chief market strategist, Ameriprise Financial (AMP).

"I suspect the IPO is going to be extraordinarily well-received. It is a well-seasoned company and it is profitable," he added.


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jdykbpl45

Remember the pump and dump with Facebook? This is the same.

May 08 2014 at 2:26 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply