Alibaba's (BABA) Secret Weapon for Future Growth

Amid challenging regulatory pressures, economic headwinds, and fierce market competition, Alibaba Group Holding Limited (BABA) has showcased a resilient performance, as evidenced by its latest quarterly results. Shares of the Chinese e-commerce giant have gained more than 7% over the past three months. Moreover, the stock is trading above its 50-day and 200-day moving averages of $76.20 and $78.79, respectively, reflecting a solid momentum.

Alibaba's diverse business portfolio continues to be a driving force behind its steady financial performance. For the fourth quarter that ended March 31, 2024, BABA’s revenue increased 7% year-over-year to $30.73 billion, beating the analysts’ estimate of $30.42 billion. The growth was driven by robust performances across its core e-commerce and cloud computing segments.

BABA’s strategic investments in Alibaba Cloud infrastructure and its domestic and international e-commerce platforms have spurred double-digit growth in key metrics such as gross merchandise value (GMV). Yet, the company’s income from operations dipped 3% from the prior-year quarter to $2.05 billion.

Navigating through cautious consumer spending in China, Alibaba has observed early signs of recovery in its primary e-commerce operations. Revenue from the Taobao and Tmall Group increased 4% year-over-year to $12.91 billion, while customer management revenue grew 5%, rebounding from a previously flat quarter. Also, revenue from the Alibaba International Digital Commerce Group (AIDC) surged 45% year-over-year to $3.80 billion.

BABA’s CEO Eddie Wu's commitment to ‘reignite’ growth through further investments is beginning to yield results, as he noted the strategies were “working and we are returning to growth.”

But What's Behind This Robust Growth?

Alibaba’s secret weapon lies in its digital technology and intelligence arm, Alibaba’s Cloud Intelligence Group, which stood as the company’s second-largest revenue generator last year. Revenue from this segment rose 3% year-over-year to $3.54 billion, driven by the double-digit growth of its public cloud business. Core offerings like elastic computing, databases, and AI products led to a notable triple-digit growth in AI-related revenue in the fourth quarter alone. This surge in demand for advanced AI solutions positions the company to capitalize on the burgeoning AI market.

To foster long-term growth and attract startups and small businesses, Alibaba aggressively slashed prices on over 100 core public cloud products (including Elastic Compute Service (ECS), Object Storage Service, and database product categories) in China. This initiative was later extended globally in April with a 23% average price reduction. Customers ordering through Alibaba’s official website can now enjoy discounts of up to 59% on computing, storage, network, database, and big data products.

“Cloud infrastructure is poised to be the key cornerstone for the future of AI, and our commitment lies in making sure that the foundation for AI development remains affordable,” said Selina Yuan, President of the International Business of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.

Moreover, Alibaba Cloud's AI capabilities have rapidly gained traction, with over 90,000 enterprises adopting the Qwen large language model (LLM) within a year of its debut and more than 7 million downloads on open-source platforms like Github. Alibaba Cloud introduced Qwen2.5, the latest addition to its Qwen model family, to meet the growing demand for AI solutions.

Furthermore, Alibaba Cloud recently launched a service to help companies customize and scale generative AI models, from consolidating multiple models to optimizing underlying infrastructure resources. The PAI-Lingjun Intelligent Computing Service, an AI computing platform tailored for high-performance computing tasks, also expanded its reach to Singapore for the first time this year.

Also, the group's strategic focus on public cloud and operational efficiency resulted in an impressive 49% year-over-year increase in adjusted EBITDA to $848 million in fiscal year 2024. Such growth figures solidify Alibaba Cloud’s role as a crucial driver of the company's future growth.

Is Price Cuts a Strategic Initiative or a Race to the Bottom?

Alibaba’s recent move to reduce prices across its cloud services has stirred the market. Some say it's a smart move to attract more customers (especially with the growing demand for AI services), while others fear it could hurt profits in the long run.

With enterprises’ expenditure on generative AI services expected to reach $143 billion in 2027 globally, the timing of BABA's price adjustments appears strategic, positioning the company to tap into this growing market.

Meanwhile, BABA's price cuts have sparked a price war among Chinese tech giants, with Baidu Cloud and ByteDance quickly following suit with their competitive offerings. While these cuts benefit consumers, Alibaba’s footing in the global marketplace is tenuous. Despite holding over 30% of China's Infrastructure as a Service market, Alibaba still trails behind AWS in the broader Asia Pacific region. Alibaba Cloud commands only a small fraction of the global cloud computing market, where AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud dominate the landscape.

Making headway against these industry giants is not easy, especially considering their strong foothold in Western markets. While the price cuts may attract budget-conscious customers and bolster Alibaba's presence in emerging markets, success hinges on maintaining high-quality service and innovation in the long run. Only time will tell if Alibaba's gamble pays off.

Bottom Line

BABA reported a beat in revenue in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2024; however, the e-commerce giant’s earnings plunged. Despite a weak bottom line, CFO Toby Xu expressed confidence in the company's business outlook, citing early positive results from strategic investments and partnerships. Alibaba sees AI as a significant driver of innovation and value creation within its ecosystem.

During the March quarter, AI-related revenue delivered “triple-digit growth year-over-year.” The revenue was generated from foundational model companies and internet companies, as well as customers from the financial services and automotive industries.

Analysts expect BABA’s revenue for the first quarter (ending June 2024) to increase 5.1% year-over-year to $34.10 billion. However, its EPS for the ongoing quarter is expected to decline by 15.6% year-over-year to $2.03. Further, for the fiscal year 2025, Alibaba’s revenue is forecasted to reach $140.92 billion (up 8.3% year-over-year), while the consensus EPS estimate of $8.23 indicates a 4.4% decline from the prior year.

In terms of forward non-GAAP P/E, BABA is trading at 9.61x, 39.5% lower than the industry average of 15.88x. Similarly, the stock’s forward EV/EBITDA and Price/Book multiples of 5.94 and 1.31 are 39% and 45.3% lower than the industry averages of 9.73 and 2.40, respectively.

In response to its low valuation, Alibaba's management repurchased $4.8 billion worth of shares during the fourth quarter. Moreover, earlier this year, the company bolstered its share buyback program by an additional $25 billion, extending it through the end of March 2027.

In further demonstrating its commitment to returning value to shareholders, BABA approved a two-part dividend plan totaling $4 billion. This plan includes a regular cash dividend of $0.125 per ordinary share or $1 per ADS in FY24 and a one-time extraordinary cash dividend of $0.0825 per ordinary share or $0.66 per ADS. Both dividends will be paid out in U.S. dollars to holders of ordinary shares and ADS holders as of the close of business on June 13, 2024.

While the impact of price reductions on Alibaba's bottom line remains to be seen, achieving double-digit revenue growth across its specific segments amid strategic pricing adjustments underscores the company's resilience and adaptability in an ever-evolving market landscape.

Short-Term Gains vs. Long-Term Risks: Evaluating Chinese Stocks in Your Portfolio

Over the past half-decade, China has implemented unpredictable and business-unfriendly policies, including the world's longest-lasting COVID-19 lockdown, making it a challenging environment for investment. A poll conducted at a Goldman Sachs conference in Hong Kong in early February indicated that over 40% of attendees considered China ‘uninvestable.’

Major companies like Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Samsung are also shifting their supply chains away from China, and many others are not planning future investments in this previously coveted market.

As the Chinese economy grapples with market weakness, the New York Times reported a shift in the government’s stance towards more business-friendly policies.

Moreover, JPMorgan analysts are optimistic about the continuation of positive China trading trends, predicting this momentum could extend through the summer. While longer-term structural concerns such as deflationary backdrop, excess capacity, real-estate demand-supply imbalances, credit saturation, and global decoupling persist, analysts believe the worst of the housing market weakness is over. And that should keep the rally going.

Last week, Alibaba Group Holding Limited (BABA),, Inc. (JD), and Baidu, Inc. (BIDU) released their quarterly results, revealing that growth, although modest, continues. Their management teams are effectively delivering on efficiencies and enhancing shareholder value.

BABA shares have gained more than 8% over the past five days, while JD saw marginal gains over the same period. Although down 4% in the past week, BIDU has logged nearly a 7% gain over the past month.

Meanwhile, the iShares MSCI China exchange-traded fund (MCHI) climbed 17% over the past month, outpacing the S&P 500, which rose nearly 7%.

Despite these gains, the question still lingers: is the rally short-lived? Let’s dig deeper.

Alibaba Group Holding Limited (BABA)

The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Limited (BABA) faced tough regulatory, macroeconomic, and competitive headwinds in the past. For the fourth quarter that ended March 31, 2024, BABA’s revenue increased by a modest 7% year-over-year to $30.73 billion. However, the company’s income from operations declined 3% from the prior-year quarter to $2.05 billion.

Alibaba has been navigating a period of cautious consumer spending in China, yet there have been signs of a slight recovery in its core e-commerce business. Revenue from the Taobao and Tmall Group rose 4% year-over-year to $12.91 billion.

Also, customer management revenue (including marketing services for merchants on Taobao and Tmall) increased 5% after being flat in the prior quarter, and revenue from the Alibaba International Digital Commerce Group (AIDC) surged 45% year-over-year to $3.80 billion.

CEO Eddie Wu's commitment to “reignite” growth through further investments showed early results in the March quarter, as he noted the strategies were “working and we are returning to growth.”

However, BABA’s net income plunged by 96% from the prior year’s quarter to $127.18 million, primarily due to a decline in the value of its holdings in other publicly traded companies. The company’s non-GAAP earnings per share fell 5% from the year-ago value to $0.18. Also, its adjusted EBITDA decreased by 5% year-over-year to $3.32 billion.

Analysts expect Alibaba’s revenue for the first quarter (ending June 2024) to increase 5.5% year-over-year to $34.22 billion. However, its EPS for the ongoing quarter is expected to decline by 15.2% year-over-year to $2.04. Further, for the fiscal year 2025, BABA’s revenue is forecasted to reach $140.52 billion (up 8% year-over-year), while the consensus EPS estimate of $8.25 indicates a 4.1% decline from the prior year.

In terms of forward non-GAAP P/E, BABA is trading at 10.74x, 31.9% lower than the industry average of 15.79x. Likewise, its forward EV/EBITDA and Price/Book multiples of 6.93 and 1.47 are 28.9% and 40.5% lower than the industry averages of 9.74 and 2.48, respectively. Attractive, isn’t it? But the question remains: why is this stock so cheap in the first place?

In response to its low valuation, Alibaba's management repurchased $4.8 billion worth of shares in the fourth quarter. Although buybacks can theoretically boost the value of remaining shares by reducing the number outstanding, they fail to tackle the fundamental reasons for Alibaba's low stock price.

Alibaba's diverse investments dilute its focus on core e-commerce and cloud businesses, impacting its efficiency and valuation in the long run. For instance, although the management reported triple-digit growth in AI-related revenue in the fourth quarter, the cloud computing division only expanded by 3% year-over-year to $3.55 billion.

The stock has gained over 28% over the past month and nearly 14% year-to-date. Despite these gains, many investors are wary of the unpredictable and hostile Chinese market, and Alibaba's sprawling conglomeration of disjointed businesses further diminishes its appeal. Plus, the company's AI prospects seem weak compared to U.S. competitors.

Given BABA’s mixed financial performance and uncertain near-term outlook, waiting for a better entry point in this stock seems prudent., Inc. (JD)

Headquartered in Beijing,, Inc. (JD) offers a wide range of products, including computers, communication devices, consumer electronics, home appliances, and general merchandise. It also provides online marketplace services for third-party merchants, marketing services, omnichannel retail solutions, and online healthcare services.

In the latest quarter, the Chinese online retailer saw accelerated growth in its topline and market share, complemented by a robust bottom line that exhibited healthy gains. As consumers have been gravitating toward low-cost, discount-focused platforms, the company’s strategic price cuts and discount coupons have boosted sales that have been hit by cautious consumer behavior.

JD’s CEO, Sandy Xu, highlighted strong performance in categories like general merchandise, electronics, home goods (especially mobile phones), and apparel. He added that improved price competitiveness resonated with users, accelerating growth in lower-tier cities faster than in higher-tier cities.

During the first quarter that ended March 31, 2024, JD’s net revenues increased 7% year-over-year to $36 billion, beating analysts’ estimate of $35.68 billion. Its income from operations grew 19.8% from the prior year’s quarter to $1.10 billion. Furthermore, non-GAAP net income attributable to the company’s ordinary shareholders came in at $1.20 billion and $0.78 per ADS, up 17.2% and 18.7% year-over-year, respectively.

Earlier this month, analysts expressed concerns about the impact of’s low-cost strategy on margins and profitability. However, CFO Ian Shan dismissed these worries, stating that increasing users and profitability simultaneously is not contradictory.

“We believe by constantly dedicating resources to product, price, and service, this improves user experience, which drives up GMV (gross merchandising volume) and market share,” forming a virtuous cycle of business enhancement and profit growth, Shan explained.

Looking at the balance sheet, holds more cash than debt, which indicates financial stability and potential for investment in growth opportunities. As of March 31, 2024, its cash and cash equivalents stood at $11.31 billion, and its total current assets were $39.34 billion. Also, JD’s free cash flow increased by 166.3% over the past 12 months, reaching $7.01 billion.

This strong cash position allowed the company to pay an annual dividend (yielding 2.19% at the current price level) for the year ended December 31, 2023, of $0.38 per ordinary share, or $0.76 per ADS, to its shareholders on April 23, 2024. JD's four-year average dividend yield is 1.24%, with a payout ratio of 23.45%.

Despite robust short-term performance, has been cautious with international expansion compared to its peers. For instance, it opted not to acquire the warehouse and store network of British electrical retailer Currys in March. However, with expectations of slowing domestic growth, the company might need to explore new overseas revenue streams to sustain its momentum.

In terms of forward non-GAAP P/E, JD is trading at 10.66x, 32.5% lower than the industry average of 15.79x. Similarly, its forward EV/Sales multiple of 0.30 is 75% lower than the industry average of 1.22. Also, the stock’s 0.33x forward Price/Sales compares to the 0.89x industry average.

Street expects JD’s revenue and EPS for the second quarter (ending June 2024) to increase 5.6% and 7.2% year-over-year to $41.69 billion and $0.79, respectively. Also, the company has topped the consensus EPS estimates in all four trailing quarters.

For the fiscal year 2024, the Chinese online retailer’s revenue and EPS are anticipated to grow 6.6% and 7.4% year-over-year to $160.66 billion and $3.31, respectively.

Shares of JD have surged more than 43% over the past three months and approximately 20% year-to-date.

Based on the company’s outlook, is focused on enhancing user experience and solidifying its market position for sustainable growth. This includes developing an ecosystem benefiting both first-party and third-party merchants. Additionally, the company’s shareholder-friendly actions, such as share repurchases and dividends, will likely bolster investor confidence and support the stock’s valuation.

Analyst Saiyi HE maintains a bullish outlook on the stock, with a price target of $51.90.

Considering these factors, along with's ongoing initiatives and potential for margin expansion, investors should closely monitor the company's performance throughout this year.

Baidu, Inc. (BIDU)

Baidu, Inc. (BIDU) operates as a Chinese-language Internet search provider with its headquarters in Beijing. Its platform enables users to discover online information. The company operates through two segments, Baidu Core and iQIYI.

Often called the "Google of China," Baidu is a prominent AI leader in the world’s second-largest economy. It not only develops AI tools but also supports the technology through its cloud computing infrastructure. Baidu launched the ERNIE bot, China's first public ChatGPT-like tool, and has a growing business in self-driving taxis.

For the first quarter that ended March 31, 2024, BIDU reported a marginal year-over-year increase in its revenues of $4.37 billion, slightly above Wall Street’s estimate of $4.34 billion. Its non-GAAP operating income rose 4% from the year-ago value to $924 million. Its non-GAAP net income came in at $971 million, up 22% year-over-year.

 Baidu’s focus on AI-driven advertisements and cloud services is expected to drive long-term growth despite potential short-term volatility in ad revenue due to the lower monetization of AI-generated search results. Moreover, AI significantly contributed to Baidu’s performance in the latest quarter. The core business, which includes online marketing and AI efforts, reported revenue ahead of analyst expectations, driven by a 6% annual growth in the AI Cloud segment.

“Baidu Core’s online marketing revenue remained stable, while the end-to-end optimization of our AI technology stack continued to propel the growth of our AI Cloud revenue during the quarter,” said Robin Li, Baidu’s CEO, in a statement.

The company’s non-GAAP earnings per ADS amounted to $2.76, a 23.7% increase from the prior year’s quarter. In addition, its adjusted EBITDA increased marginally year-over-year to $1.14 billion.

As of March 31, 2024, the company’s cash and cash equivalents were $4.21 billion, and its total current assets stood at $30.12 billion.

Rong Luo, Baidu’s Chief Financial Officer, stated, “In the coming quarters, we will execute on what is needed to optimize our operational efficiency in support of our AI enabled businesses and high-quality growth, and maintain a healthy non-GAAP operating margin.”

In terms of forward non-GAAP P/E, BIDU is currently trading at 9.87x, 28.7% lower than the industry average of 13.86x. Also, its forward EV/EBIT multiple of 8.61 is 42% lower than the industry average of 14.85x.

Analysts expect BIDU’s revenue for the second quarter (ending June 2024) to increase 3.1% year-over-year to $4.81 billion. However, its EPS for the current quarter is expected to decrease by 12.2% year-over-year to $2.71. Over the past month, the stock has gained more than 17% to close the last trading session at $108.87.

While the firm’s short-term gains are apparent, demonstrated by robust financial performance and stock price increases, there are looming risks, primarily due to potential fluctuations in ad revenue and the complexities of integrating generative AI capabilities.

Given this backdrop, investors should monitor BIDU's progress closely, especially its advancements in AI and cloud services, to evaluate the sustainability of its growth.

Why Nvidia's Stock Surge Could Translate to Higher Dividends

With a $2.35 trillion market cap, NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA) has had an exceptional year so far. Following a stellar 2023, NVDA’s stock has already surged nearly 92% since January. Moreover, the stock has gained over 200% in the past year.

This surge in NVIDIA has been fueled by its explosive growth in the AI and data center markets, making it one of the most talked-about and desirable stocks. With a high of just under $955 in yesterday’s session, expectations are mounting for the stock to hit four digits soon.

Ahead of Nvidia’s earnings, Stifel analyst Ruben Roy increased his price target on the stock from $910 to $1,085, citing that he expects Nvidia to again surpass expectations on the top and bottom lines and raise its guidance for the next quarter.

The company’s results have been bolstered by solid demand for its chips from hyperscalers, including Amazon (AMZN), Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL), Meta Platforms, Inc. (META), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), and others. As a result, the first-quarter earnings report will serve as a crucial gauge of the industry’s appetite for further AI investment.

Also, Bank of America analyst Vivek Arya raised his price target on NVDA stock from $925 to $1100 while maintaining a “Buy” rating.

Let’s analyze how Nvidia’s stock price appreciation could lead to higher dividend payouts.

Dominance in AI and Data Center Markets

The U.S., led by NVIDIA, dominates the generative AI (GenAI) tech market. With the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, the rise of GenAI gained substantial momentum.

From consumer-facing applications, foundational technology such as large language models (LLMs), cloud infrastructure, and semiconductors crucial for operations, U.S. companies hold a market share ranging from 70% to an impressive 90% across several segments of the generative AI landscape.

According to Statista, the global generative AI market is expected to reach $36.06 billion in 2024. Further, the market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 46.5%, resulting in a market volume of $356.10 billion by 2030. In global comparison, the U.S. is estimated to have the largest market share, totaling $11.66 billion this year.

Moreover, NVDA, a leading tech player, commands a market share of around 92% in the data center GPU market for GenAI applications.

Nvidia’s success extends beyond its cutting-edge semiconductor performance, owing to its software capabilities. The widely adopted CUDA development platform, introduced in 2006, has become a fundamental tool for AI development, amassing a user base of more than 4 million developers.

The company’s chips are essential in powering technology like Google’s Gemini and OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Also, META has placed a sizable order of 350,000 H100 GPU graphics cards from Nvidia. In line, MSFT has spent billions of dollars buying chips from the chipmaker.

Unveiled New Generation AI Graphics Processors

In March 2024, NVDA announced its next-generation chip architecture named Blackwell and related products, including its latest AI chip, B200. The latest GPUs are expected to dramatically boost developers’ ability to build advanced AI models.

The new GPU platform succeeds the company’s Hopper architecture, which was launched two years earlier and helped send NVDA’s business and stock surging.

Blackwell GPUs, containing 208 billion transistors, can enable AI models to scale up to 10 trillion parameters. It will be incorporated in Nvidia’s GB200 Grace Blackwell Superchip, which connects two B200 Blackwell GPUs to a Grace CPU.

The new AI chips are expected to ship later this year.

“Generative AI is the defining technology of our time,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a keynote address at the company’s developers conference in San Jose, California. “Blackwell GPUs are the engine to power this new industrial revolution. Working with the most dynamic companies in the world, we will realize the promise of AI for every industry.”

With Blackwell’s superior performance, the chipmaker aims to solidify its dominance in the data center GPU market.

Outstanding Fourth-Quarter Financials

For the fourth quarter that ended January 28, 2024, NVDA’s revenue increased 265.3% year-over-year to $22.10 billion. That exceeded analysts’ expectations of $20.55 billion. It reported a record revenue from the Data Center segment of $18.40 billion, up 409% from the prior year’s period.

“Accelerated computing and generative AI have hit the tipping point. Demand is surging worldwide across companies, industries and nations,” said Jensen Huang.

He added, “Our Data Center platform is powered by increasingly diverse drivers — demand for data processing, training and inference from large cloud-service providers and GPU-specialized ones, as well as from enterprise software and consumer internet companies. Vertical industries — led by auto, financial services and healthcare — are now at a multibillion-dollar level.

The chipmaker’s gross profit was $16.79 billion, an increase of 338.1% year-over-year. Its non-GAAP operating income rose 563.2% year-over-year to $14.75 billion. Its non-GAAP net income grew 490.6% from the previous year’s quarter to $12.84 billion.

Also, Nvidia posted non-GAAP earnings per share of $5.16, compared to the analysts’ estimate of $4.63, and up 486% year-over-year.

NVDA’s non-GAAP free cash flow was $11.22 billion, up 546.1% from the previous year’s period. The company’s total current assets were $44.35 billion as of January 28, 2024, compared to $23.07 billion as of January 29, 2023.

“Fundamentally, the conditions are excellent for continued growth” in 2025 and beyond, Huang told analysts. He noted that the robust demand for the company’s GPUs is expected to persist, fueled by the adoption of generative AI and an industry-wide shift from central processors to Nvidia’s accelerators.

Further, NVIDIA predicts revenue of $24 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2025. The company’s non-GAAP gross margin is anticipated to be 77%.

Potential for Increased Dividend Payouts

As Nvidia's revenue and profits soar significantly, the company will likely consider increasing its dividend payouts, benefiting long-term investors. NVIDIA paid its quarterly cash dividend of $0.04 per share on March 27 to shareholders of record on March 6. The company’s annual dividend of $0.16 translates to a yield of 0.02% at the current share price.

Currently, Nvidia's dividend yield is modest compared to its tech peers, but its substantial cash flow and strong balance sheet provide ample room for growth. By increasing dividends, the company can attract a broader base of income-focused investors, further supporting its stock price.

Bottom Line

NVDA’s remarkable rise so far this year can be attributed to its dominance in the AI and data center markets, fueled by the growing demand for its chips from tech giants such as Amazon, Google, Meta, Microsoft, and more.

Moreover, Nvidia’s recent announcement of its next-generation chip architecture, Blackwell, and related products demonstrates its commitment to innovation and maintaining its competitive edge. With Blackwell's superior performance, Nvidia aims to consolidate its dominance in the data center GPU market.

Analysts are highly optimistic about the chipmaker’s prospects. Analysts expect NVDA’s revenue and EPS for the fiscal 2025 first quarter (ended April 2024) to increase 242% and 411.9%year-over-year to $24.59 billion and $5.58, respectively. Also, the company topped consensus revenue and EPS estimates in all four trailing quarters, which is impressive.

As NVDA continues to expand its market share and generate higher revenue and profit, the company naturally accumulates more cash reserves. With ample cash in hand, it can increase its dividend payouts without compromising its ability to fund ongoing operations or invest in future growth opportunities.

Increased dividends will be a positive signal to the market, reflecting Nvidia’s confidence in its long-term prospects and its commitment to returning value to shareholders. This move can also enhance investor sentiment, particularly among those looking for stable income streams in addition to capital appreciation.

In conclusion, NVDA stands at the forefront of the tech industry, driving innovation and shaping the future of AI. Given its outstanding financial performance, technological leadership, and potential for dividend growth, Nvidia is an attractive investment opportunity for long-term investors.

Is Energy Transfer (ET) the Next Big Dividend Winner?

Leading midstream oil & gas company Energy Transfer LP (ET) has again gained traction among income-seeking investors for its high-yield dividend. The company's distribution yield currently tops 8%, which is well above the market’s 1.4% yield.

Moreover, the energy company has been a staple in a Congress member's portfolio for several years. In 2023, Representative Mark Green of Tennessee emerged as the second-best stock trader in Congress, boasting an impressive 122.2% return on investment.

Now, let's take a closer look at the company’s business operations, fundamentals, and how it supports its attractive distribution.

Recent Strategic Expansion Initiatives

Operating a vast network of approximately 125,000 miles of pipelines for the transportation of crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids (NGLs), Energy Transfer demonstrates its robust and resilient business operations.

On March 27, 2024, Texas Rangers announced an extended partnership with ET, marking a multi-year agreement where the energy company will serve as the Rangers' official jersey patch partner. This move signifies a significant expansion of the company's brand visibility and community involvement.

ET co-CEO Mackie McCrea remarked, “Expanding our partnership to include the jersey patch creates an opportunity for us to show our support for the team while aligning our brand with Rangers fans throughout the Metroplex and across the country.”

On February 23, ET and Sunoco LP (SUN) joined forces to sponsor Sauber Motorsport’s Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber, marking their inaugural marketing partnership. The two-year agreement, starting from the 2024 season, grants sponsorship rights for three Formula 1 Grand Prix races in the U.S.

Also, in November 2023, Energy Transfer completed its previously announced merger with Crestwood Equity Partners LP, and integration of the combined operations is ongoing. The merger is expected to generate $80 million of annual cost synergies by 2026, with $65 million in 2024, before additional anticipated benefits from financial and commercial synergies.

What’s in Store for Income-oriented Investors?

ET is highly committed to returning value to shareholders via attractive dividends. On April 24, the company announced a quarterly cash distribution of $0.3175 per common unit ($1.27 on an annualized basis) for the first quarter, to be paid on May 20, 2024. The distribution per unit represents a 3.3% increase over the year-ago quarter.

Further, the company expects to grow its distribution by 3% to 5% annually. Energy Transfer’s current dividend translates to an 8% yield, while its four-year average dividend yield is 9.8%. Meanwhile, ET has raised its dividend payouts at a CAGR of 10.8% over the past three years.

Solid Fourth-Quarter 2023 Results and Upbeat 2024 Outlook

For the fourth quarter that ended December 31, 2023, ET’s revenues rose marginally year-over-year to $20.53 billion. Its operating income grew 19.9% year-over-year to $2.17 billion. Net income attributable to partners and net income per common unit came in at $1.33 billion and $0.37, up 14.9% and 8.8% from the prior-year quarter, respectively.

Furthermore, the energy company’s adjusted EBITDA increased 4.8% year-over-year to $3.60 billion. Also, its distributable cash flow attributable to partners amounted to $2.03 billion compared to $1.91 billion for the same period last year.

During the fourth quarter, Energy Transfer achieved significant milestones with the addition of new growth projects and acquisitions. The company's assets hit new records, with NGL fractionation volumes increasing by 16%. NGL transportation volumes also saw a notable surge of 10%. Additionally, NGL exports were up more than 13%, showcasing the company's expanding market reach.

Further, interstate natural gas transportation volumes witnessed a 5% growth, while midstream gathered volumes rose by the same margin. Crude oil transportation and terminal volumes were up 39% and 16%, respectively.

For the fiscal year 2024, ET anticipates its adjusted EBITDA to fall between $14.5 billion and $14.8 billion. The midpoint of this range indicates a 7% increase from last year’s adjusted EBITDA. Growth capital expenditures are estimated to range from $2.4 billion to $2.6 billion, including nearly $300 million of deferred spending from the previous 2023 capital guidance.

Energy Transfer will unveil its first-quarter results on May 8. For the quarter that ended March 2024, analysts expect the company’s EPS and revenue to increase 19% and 10.4% year-over-year to $0.38 and $20.97 billion, respectively. In addition, ET’s EPS and revenue for the fiscal year 2024 are expected to grow 44.1% and 9.1% from the prior year to $1.57 and $85.70 billion, respectively.

Bottom Line

ET’s business continues to thrive, propelled by consistent demand across its network and strategic acquisitions and partnerships. It benefits from a portfolio of assets with exceptional product and geographic diversity. Moreover, the energy company reported impressive fourth-quarter results, primarily driven by increased volumes across all core segments and the positive impact of its recent acquisition of Enable Midstream.

Moreover, ET announced an increase in quarterly cash dividend to $0.3175 per common unit for the first quarter of 2024. The company’s annual dividend reflects a lucrative yield of 8%. Energy Transfer targets a 3% to 5% annual distribution growth rate. The dividend increase reflects ET’s confidence in its financial health and growth prospects.

Further, the stock is modestly undervalued. ET’s forward non-GAAP price-to-earnings ratio of 10.17 is 7.5% lower than the industry average of 11. Also, its forward Price/Sales multiple of 0.62 compares to the industry average of 1.49.

Regarding price performance, the midstream giant’s shares have gained nearly 15% year-to-date and more than 25.1% over the past year. On top of it, RBC Capital analyst Elvira Scotto recently maintained a Buy rating on ET and set a price target of $19. Also, Mizuho Securities reiterated a Buy rating on the stock with a $19 price target.

Given ET’s promising expansion efforts, solid financial performance, and attractive dividend yield, we believe that this stock holds the potential to become the next big dividend winner. Hence, it could be an ideal buy for those principally focused on income.

Top China Stock Picks to Buy Amid Economic Boom

China's economy surged beyond projections at the start of 2024, with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) escalating by 5.3% in the first quarter, an increase from the previous quarter's 5.2%, as the National Bureau of Statistics reported. The world's second-largest economy embraced a familiar strategy: significant investment in its manufacturing domain to invigorate growth.

This included a spree of new factories, propelling global sales of solar panels, electric vehicles, and various other products. Industrial production saw a 6.1% leap in the first quarter compared to the previous year, driven by robust expansion in high-tech manufacturing.

Notably, the production of 3D printing equipment, electric vehicle charging stations, and electronic components surged by approximately 40% year-on-year. Moreover, last month, the manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) expanded for the first time in six months, while the Caixin/S&P PMI reached its highest level in over a year, buoyed by increased overseas demand.

That said, China has established an annual growth target of approximately 5% for 2024. Additionally, authorities have implemented interest rate cuts to stimulate bank lending and expedited central government spending to bolster infrastructure investment.

Given this backdrop, investors can leverage the economy's solid momentum by considering buying fundamentally robust Chinese stocks poised to deliver substantial returns.

PDD Holdings Inc. (PDD)

PDD Holdings Inc. (PDD), the e-commerce operator behind Pinduoduo and Temu, has rocked both the Chinese and U.S. e-commerce sectors with outstanding earnings and upbeat long-term prospects. The company primarily focuses on bringing businesses and people into the digital economy. Its market capitalization stands at $164.93 billion.

For the fourth quarter that ended December 31, 2023, PDD’s total revenues increased 123.2% year-over-year to $12.52 billion. Its non-GAAP operating profit rose 146% from the year-ago value to $3.46 billion. Its non-GAAP net income attributable to ordinary shareholders and non-GAAP earnings per ADS were $3.59 billion and $2.40, up 110.4% and 71.7% year-over-year, respectively.

Furthermore, cash inflows from operating activities for the quarter came in at $5.20 billion, an increase of 38.9% from the prior year’s quarter, primarily due to the surge in net income. Such financial prowess solidifies the company’s position in the market and sets a high bar for competitors.

Lei Chen, co-CEO of PDD, hailed 2023 as a “pivotal chapter,” attributing Pinduoduo's resilience in a sluggish Chinese economy and Temu’s burgeoning popularity in the U.S. to the company's strategic prowess. As Pinduoduo's affordable offerings resonate with value-conscious consumers amid economic uncertainties, the company's trajectory is becoming even more compelling.

Looking ahead, analysts expect PDD’s revenue to increase 97.8% year-over-year to $10.54 billion for the first quarter ended March 2024, and its EPS is expected to grow 47.8% year-over-year to $1.45. Moreover, the company has an impressive earnings surprise history as it surpassed consensus revenue and EPS estimates in all four trailing quarters.

Furthermore, for the fiscal year 2024, Street expects PDD’s revenue and EPS to increase 49.4% and 30.9% from the prior year to $51.37 billion and $8.45, respectively.

Baidu, Inc. (BIDU)

Baidu, Inc. (BIDU), a Chinese tech company specializing in Internet-related services, products, and artificial intelligence (AI), recently unveiled an array of cutting-edge AI models and toolkits. These advancements democratize AI development, empowering individuals of all skill levels to create transformative applications, a move poised to elevate BIDU's standing in the AI arena significantly.

One standout is ERNIE, BIDU's flagship AI model, renowned for its versatility across various applications. ERNIE Bot, a conversational AI bot built on this framework, has swiftly garnered 200 million users since its launch in March 2023, handling a staggering 200 million daily queries.

Baidu Comate, another innovation powered by ERNIE, has catalyzed innovation by contributing to 27% of new code within BIDU, serving over 10,000 companies, with an impressive 46% adoption rate. Additionally, Qianfan, BIDU AI Cloud's FM platform, has enabled over 85,000 enterprises to develop 190,000 AI applications, showcasing BIDU's wide-reaching impact in the industry.

BIDU's financial performance mirrors these technological triumphs. In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023, the company’s revenue grew 5.7% year-over-year to $4.92 billion. Its non-GAAP operating income surged by 8.9% from the year-ago value to $996 million, and its non-GAAP net income experienced a 44.4% year-over-year growth, reaching $1.09 billion.

Moreover, BIDU’s adjusted EBITDA showed significant improvement, increasing by 10% year-over-year to $1.28 billion.

Analysts foresee a promising growth trajectory for BIDU. Wall Street expects the company’s revenue to increase 6.3% year-over-year to $19.87 billion for the fiscal year ending in December 2024, accompanied by an estimated EPS of $10.74. Furthermore, BIDU surpassed consensus EPS estimates in all four trailing quarters, which is remarkable.

For the fiscal year 2025, the company’s revenue and EPS are anticipated to grow 7.9% and 10% year-over-year to $21.43 billion and $11.82, respectively. These optimistic projections underscore BIDU's unwavering commitment to innovation and its potential for sustained success in the dynamic landscape of AI technology.

Baozun Inc. (BZUN)

Baozun Inc. (BZUN), a premier brand e-commerce solution provider and digital commerce enabler, has fortified omnichannel capabilities and expanded core product categories through high-level engagements. Collaborating with brand partners and key marketplaces, the company has crafted effective go-to-market strategies, acquiring over 50 new brands in 2023.

Implementing a new store concept transitioning from large-scale to boutique formats, BZUN enhances brand DNA and fosters immersive brand experiences beyond mere commercial transactions. In-store pop-ups and campaigns are further amplifying social engagement, enriching consumer experiences.

In addition, in January, the company authorized a new share repurchase program, allowing the repurchase of up to $20 million worth of outstanding American depositary shares (ADSs) and Class A ordinary shares over the ensuing 12 months, starting January 24, 2024.

During the fiscal 2023 fourth-quarter earnings call, BZUN unveiled the inauguration of 10 new stores, including a flagship in Guangzhou, alongside expansions in Shantou, Shenzhen, and Beijing. Notably, square meter efficiency surged 50% for newly opened stores, with existing ones witnessing a remarkable 19% spike in same-store sales.

For the fourth quarter that ended December 31, 2023, BZUN reported an 8.9% year-over-year surge in total net revenues to $391.61 million, marking a significant turnaround from the previous year's loss. The company posted an adjusted operating profit for E-Commerce of $16.60 million for the quarter.

Mr. Vincent Qiu, BZUN’s Chairman and CEO, said, “In 2023, we started our transformation journey, expanding into three business divisions. Throughout the year, we solidified our leadership in the digital commerce industry, and further enhanced operational efficiency. I am grateful for the resilience and adaptability demonstrated by the Baozun team amid the ever-changing market environment.”

“Looking ahead to 2024, despite macro uncertainties, we remain committed to sustainably executing our plans with diligence and patience. The improved health of our business fundamentals gives us confidence to enhance value proposition to our brand partners,” he added.

For the fiscal year ending December 2024, Street expects BZUN’s revenue to increase 3.2% year-over-year to $1.26 billion. Similarly, the company’s revenue for the fiscal year 2025 is estimated to grow 6.9% from the previous year to $1.35 billion.

Bottom Line

While U.S. stocks may offer stability in tumultuous times, diversifying into international stocks can yield significant benefits, especially in terms of portfolio risk management and solid returns. Financial advisors often advocate for familiarity with American companies, yet venturing into global markets, particularly China, can broaden investment horizons and unlock new opportunities.

This is because China is poised to reclaim its global significance, as per Bloomberg's analysis of IMF forecasts. Projections suggest China's economic resurgence will surpass the combined growth of the G-7 nations. China is anticipated to lead with an estimated 21% contribution to global economic growth from now through 2029.

In comparison, the G-7 nations are expected to contribute approximately 20%, while the U.S. falls short with 12%, nearly half of China's projected growth. Remarkably, 75% of global growth will originate from only 20 countries, with China, India, the U.S., and Indonesia accounting for over half of this expansion.

Investors can capitalize on this dynamic economic landscape by exploring fundamentally strong Chinese stocks poised for substantial returns. Among these, PDD, with its meteoric rise in e-commerce, BIDU, leveraging cutting-edge AI innovations, and BZUN, a leading brand e-commerce solution provider, stand out.

These stocks’ impressive financial performances, strategic initiatives, and optimistic growth projections make them compelling investment options for investors seeking exposure to the thriving Chinese economy.