A year ago, Alibaba executives were preparing a roadshow that paved the way for one of the biggest initial public offerings in history.
As the company reported its earnings on Wednesday, saying net profit had risen a less-than-expected 28 percent, it appeared the excitement that drew bankers to crowded rooms across the globe to hear Alibaba’s pitch had dulled.
Faced with a slowing economy, new challenges making money on smartphones and a little bad luck, Alibaba’s stock has fallen about 35 percent from its November 2014 highs, and was just 14 percent above the I.P.O. price of $68 before the latest results were released.
As part of its efforts to shore up its share price, Alibaba said on Wednesday that it would authorize a $4 billion share buyback program over two years. The program is intended to help offset dilution of shares from employee compensation tied to stock.
In a rare moment speaking for Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, the company’s executive vice chairman, Joe Tsai, said neither of them would sell shares. Their first opportunity to do so is next month.
“I usually don’t speak on behalf of Jack, but on this one he’s authorized me to talk on his behalf. Jack and I have zero intentions to sell other than a small amount that is in our charitable trusts,” Mr. Tsai said.
Mr. Tsai said Yahoo’s and SoftBank’s shares also “unlock” next month. Since Yahoo announced its intention to spin off its Alibaba stock in January, those shares have lost more than $11 billion in value.