Shares of ZTO Express (Cayman) Inc. (NYSE: ZTO) traded up 3.5% on Tuesday, at $26 per American depositary share, after beating analysts' estimates on parcel volume and adjusted net income for the fourth quarter.
Backed by China's giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA), the company said in a statement on Tuesday that revenues for the three months through Dec. 31 reached 983.4 million, at an increase of 21.7% year-over-year. Net income, it said, was $332.8 million, up 81.2% from the same period a year ago.
Revenues from its core express delivery business increased 24.6% compared to the fourth quarter of 2018, mainly driven by a 36.1% increase in parcel volume and partially offset by an 8.4% decrease in unit price per parcel mainly from incremental volume incentives in response to competition.
"2019 was a monumental year for ZTO. Our market share reached 19.1% for the year with 12.1 billion parcels, marking us, for the third consecutive year, the world's largest express delivery company by volume", said Meisong Lai, founder and CEO of ZTO.
He added, "China entered 2020 battling against the coronavirus, the nation as a whole made huge sacrifices as well as great strides. As of today, outside of the Hubei province, ZTO's network has resumed normal operations with daily parcel volume returning to non-crisis level. ZTO's core strength and clear advantages are intact. We are confident in our continued ability to execute our growth strategy and further differentiate ourselves as China and the world strive to overcome the challenges from the coronavirus and resume normalcy going forward."
Thanks to the strong growth, the board of directors has approved a special dividend of $0.30 per ADS for 2019, which is expected to be paid on April 20, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on April 8, 2020.
The Shanghai-based company said its net cash provided by operating activities was $324.7 million, compared with $257.2 million in the same period of 2018.
Looking ahead, the delivery company targets to grow its 2020 annual parcel volume by at least 15%, over and above the industry average.