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The "Amazon" of Latin America

By Motley Fool Staff - May 22, 2018 at 12:39PM

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This e-commerce leader may not be a familiar name to U.S. investors, but it should be.

On this episode of Industry Focus: Tech, Dylan Lewis is joined by contributor Danny Vena to discuss the company that beats Amazon, PayPal, Shopify, and eBay in Latin America.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on May 18, 2018.

Dylan Lewis: Alright, Danny, turning our attention to a company that we both currently own, why don't we talk about MercadoLibre (MELI -0.61%)? I know this is one of your favorite businesses, it's one that you turned me onto, I think, about a year ago, and I've been following it since. Why don't we break down for people that aren't as familiar with the business?

Danny Vena: Well, for folks that have never heard of it, MercadoLibre is the leading e-commerce platform in Latin America. When you think about e-commerce, you think about companies like Amazon, that's the e-commerce leader that sells products; you think about Shopify, that helps set up websites and manage them for business owners; you think about companies like eBay, that has a platform for people to sell things to each other; you think about PayPal, that's actually one of the more widely used digital payment sources. If you take all of those companies and you take the best of them and meld it all together, that's what you have in Latin America with MercadoLibre.

Lewis: Yeah, much like our earlier conversation about Tencent, this is a company that does a whole lot of different things and seems to do it very well. One of the issues with the space that it operates in is, they wind up getting hit with a lot of volatility. They're in a lot of developing markets, they wind up getting hit with a lot of currency fluctuations. This is something that can really put a damper on their quarterly results. So, there can be some disappointments there. When we're looking at the results for this company, I know you and I tend to focus on some of the more operational business metrics.

Vena: That's true, Dylan. And because they operate in 19 different foreign countries, and the currencies of those countries, and they report in dollars, like you said, there are severe fluctuations that happen with their financials due to changes in foreign currency rates compared to the dollar. So, we look at some of the operational metrics.

Three of my favorites are user growth, items sold, and payment transactions. And the reason for that is because they're not currency-denominated. So, looking at those, that gives you a good proxy for growth in a number of different areas, and it strips out the foreign currency effect. And, this company has really done well looking at those operational metrics. When you look at user growth, it's grown its user growth for about 20% going back every quarter for, like, six years. Its items sold has grown 40% year over year on average for, like, the last nine quarters. Payment transactions have exceeded 60% growth year over year every quarter going back to early 2015. So, if you look at the non-financial part of the growth story, this company is growing gangbusters.

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Mercadolibre, Inc. Stock Quote
Mercadolibre, Inc.
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