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Alibaba earnings, revenue blow past analysts' expectations

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba on Wednesday reported earnings and revenue that topped analysts' expectations.

Alibaba posted earnings of 5.26 yuan per share, up from 3.61 yuan a share a year ago.

Revenue increased 55 percent to 34.29 billion yuan from 22.17 billion yuan in the year-earlier period.

Analysts expected the company to post adjusted earnings of 4.68 yuan a share on revenue of 34.02 billion yuan, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.

"Beyond the strong performance of our core commerce business, we are pleased with the continued rapid growth of our cloud computing business," said Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group, in a release. "We also see huge potential in our newly integrated digital media and entertainment unit."

Wall Street has been watching the company's gross merchandise volume (GMV) — the value of transactions carried out by third-party sellers on the company's platforms. Last quarter, that figure rose 24.4 percent to 837 billion yuan.

Last week, Amazon announced it was launching a tailored version of its Prime service in China to tap into consumer demand for overseas goods, putting market leaders Alibaba and JD.com on notice that it wants access to the Chinese market.

Another segment to watch is the mobile revenue from the company's China commerce retail business. That figure more than doubled to 17.51 billion yuan last quarter, while monthly mobile active users increased 39 percent in the same period.

In September, market research firm eMarketer said Alibaba was expected to overtake Baidu as the largest player in the country's digital advertising market. It said Alibaba's market share is expected to rise by four percentage points to 29 percent. Its digital ad revenue is expected to surge 54 percent this year.

Alibaba has recently increased its investment in the virtual reality space. Last month, it announced a deal with Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners to co-produce films for global audience. In the same month, it completed a deal for its cloud computing arm to use Advanced Micro Devices technology to improve graphic processing in its data centers. Analysts will be expecting to see continued momentum in cloud revenue growth.