Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has today reported a 28% plunge in third quarter net profit, missing analysts' estimates as earnings were hit by a one-off financing fee and higher taxes. 

Net profit for the three months ending December reached $964m, although earnings per share rose 13% to 81 cents. 

Sales soared 40% to $4.219 billion as Alibaba now counts 334 million active buyers on its e-commerce platforms, but fell short of the $4.45 billion in revenues that analysts were expecting. 

China makes up by far its biggest market with sales of $3.429 billion. 

Alibaba operates the Asian giant's most popular online shopping platform Taobao, and has been investing in apps to attract users of mobile devices like smartphones. 

Revenues generated from such mobile devices leapt five-fold (448%) to $1.035 billion for the third quarter, to make up 42% of total sales. 

This figure has been rising steadily, from 36% in the previous quarter and from 20% one a year ago. 

Headquartered in the Chinese eastern city of Hangzhou, Alibaba completed the world's biggest IPO with its listing on the New York Stock Exchange in September.

Its earnings also far surpass that of US e-commerce giant Amazon, which has been posting massive losses after a series of product launches including phones, tablets and television programmes.