Recent earnings reports of other companies, including Apple, reflect signs of weak sales in the Chinese market. Most of Alibaba's revenue comes from the fees it charges buyers and sellers to trade goods and services on its online marketplaces, such as Tmall and Taobao.
However, last week, Alibaba's executive vice-chairman, Joe Tsai, noted that sales had ticked up in December, though demand for big-ticket items continued to slow. Alibaba said that was primarily driven by increased spending from enterprise customers. Alibaba's stock was up more than 6 percent at market close on Wednesday.
In the fourth quarter of 2018, Alibaba's revenue increased 41% from a year earlier, reaching 117.278 billion yuan (US$17.46 billion).
The company reassured investors, though, beating expectations on adjusted earnings per share, which grew 15 percent year-over-year to 12.19 yuan ($1.77), and net income, which rose 33 percent to 30.96 billion yuan ($4.81 billion).
Profitability got a one-time boost from a non-cash gain of 22 billion yuan from the revaluation of Alibaba's previously held equity interest in food and lifestyle services firm Koubei, partly offset by impairment charges of 7.06 billion yuan.
The results propelled the shares of NY listed Alibaba to gain more than 6%, to US$166.82.
Alibaba revenue by segment for the periods
However, shares dipped in NY trading, down 1.3pc, as investors took the results as a sign growth was waning, given Alibaba's revenue had grown more than 50pc for the 10 consecutive quarters prior to the most recent results. Annual growth, however, dropped to the weakest rate in the event's 10-year history as the Chinese economy grew at its weakest pace in almost three decades.
Anticipating headwinds from economic uncertainty, Alibaba had lowered its revenue outlook for its financial year ending March even before the top sales season. "T$3 he healthy balance sheet of Chinese households and the increasing availability of credit will fuel consumption", he also said.
Alibaba's chief executive officer, Daniel Zhang, called the quarter "strong" for the company.
The 41pc growth announced on Wednesday was the weakest Alibaba had recorded in three years. But concerns over China's macroeconomic conditions are growing.
Cloud computing is a bright spot for Alibaba.