Alibaba's earnings soar and it vows to help Chinese consumers cope with the coronavirus

The Chinese e-commerce giant managed to post a revenue gain of nearly 40% in the three months to December 31, while earnings rose almost 50% from the same period last year.

But Alibaba (BABA) sounded a note of caution about the start of this year because of the coronavirus. It said the outbreak is an ongoing concern, and that it is doing all it can to help Chinese consumers cope.

"In response to the coronavirus, we mobilized Alibaba ecosystem's powerful forces of commerce and technology to fully support the fight against the outbreak, ensure supply of daily necessities for our communities and introduced practical relief measures for our merchants," Alibaba chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang said in a statement.

"We will support our merchants to overcome this challenging time together," Zhang added.

It's been a volatile year so far for Alibaba shares due to coronavirus fears.

Shares are up nearly 6% in 2020, but it hasn't been a smooth climb. Alibaba's stock fell more than 2.5% in January before rebounding in the past two weeks. The Chinese government has been encouraging people to turn to online shopping as quarantine measures kept millions under lockdown.

Chinese consumers continued to spend big on the company's Taobao and Tmall platforms at the end of last year. Alibaba said that it set a record for Singles Day, a Chinese shopping extravaganza that takes place on November 11.

Its cloud business, like that of rival Amazon (AMZN), is also thriving. Alibaba Cloud revenue surged 62% from a year ago in the quarter.

Alibaba recently completed a successful secondary listing of its shares on Hong Kong's stock exchange. The company said it raised $13 billion from the offering, adding to its considerable war chest.