Even after climbing more than 40% so far this year, MercadoLibre's (NASDAQ:MELI) shares will continue to reward investors in the months ahead.

So says J.P. Morgan analyst Marcelo Santos. On Wednesday, Santos reiterated an "overweight" rating on MercadoLibre's stock and raised his target price from $800 to $1,000. That implies potential upside of 22% for investors, based upon MercadoLibre's current share price of $820.

A rising bar graph.

MercadoLibre's stock could deliver even more gains to shareholders in the coming year, according to J.P. Morgan analyst Marcelo Santos. Image source: Getty Images.

Santos expects e-commerce growth to accelerate as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With so many people stuck at home due to social distancing directives, more consumers are shopping online than ever before. Many of these new online buyers will continue to shop on e-commerce marketplaces -- such as those operated by MercadoLibre -- even after the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

Fears of virus transmission from handling cash could also lead to increased adoption of digital payment technology. MercadoLibre-owned Mercado Pago, the leading online payment solution in Latin America, stands to benefit from this, as well as the long-term global trend away from cash and toward digital payments.

In turn, Santos believes MercadoLibre is set to enjoy potentially powerful short-term and long-term growth catalysts, which should help to drive its stock price higher over time.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.