What do cloud computing, online gaming, and mobile payments have in common? Other than being fast-growing tech trends, they are complementary businesses for one or more of three e-commerce specialists: Amazon (AMZN -2.86%), MercadoLibre (MELI -6.93%), and Sea Limited (SE -3.33%).
Investors may be interested in these three companies because of the long-term growth trend of e-commerce, but it's actually their breadth of offerings that make them even more attractive as stock buys.
Let's look at what makes this trio so special and why they're the top e-commerce stocks you should buy right now.
1. Amazon: Supported by a huge cloud of computing prowess
Twenty-five years after Amazon sold its first book online, its e-commerce business is still growing at an incredible pace. In the second quarter, its U.S. and international online shopping segments grew at a currency-neutral 44% and 41% rate year over year, respectively. That's an acceleration from last quarter's 29% and 20% growth because of increased demand due to COVID-19.
Operating income from these segments was $2.5 billion for the quarter despite $4 billion in spending on pandemic-related safety measures. Over the last 12 months, its e-commerce business generated an incredible $282 billion in revenue, but that isn't the whole story.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) was launched in 2006 and has become a mega-business with a $40 billion annual run rate. It made up 12% of the company's top line and contributed to overall growth with its respectable 29% year-over-year revenue gain for Q2. It's also highly profitable, generating $3.4 billion in operating income last quarter. Last August, one analyst predicted AWS could be worth as much as $400 billion if valued as a separate company -- and it's grown over 30% since then.
With the novel coronavirus keeping people at home, many have come to depend on e-commerce to purchase everyday goods. As these practices become long-term habits, Amazon benefits. When you add in its cloud computing income-generating engine, this stock becomes a solid buy right now.
2. MercadoLibre: Latin American e-commerce and payments leader
MercadoLibre was founded in 1999 to serve the Latin American e-commerce market, connecting buyers and sellers online. As it expanded, it realized that the region's unbanked population was holding back its growth, so it launched its payments business, Mercado Pago, in 2003. Since then, its fintech offerings (payments and other financial services) have become a $1 billion annual revenue run rate business on the strength of its 75%-plus currency-neutral growth over the last five quarters. But fintech revenue only accounted for 42% of its overall revenue last quarter.
Its e-commerce segment has grown into a full-service ecosystem for 18 countries across the region. Hosting 274 million listings last year and selling 378 million items drove its marketplace revenue up 71% to an impressive $1.2 billion last year. Growth continued into Q1, achieving a 62% currency-neutral growth (or 32% when converted to U.S. dollars).
With COVID-19 tailwinds propelling Amazon to post strong Q2 results, I wouldn't be surprised if this Latin American e-commerce and payments specialist treats investors with an equally strong showing when it releases earnings on Monday, Aug. 10.
3. Sea Limited: A trio of online businesses
Sea Limited serves Southeast Asia as a regional e-commerce operator and payments processor, but it also has another trick up its sleeve: its highly profitable digital entertainment business, which makes up over half of its top line. This segment is driven by its popular online game Free Fire, which recently achieved a record 80 million daily active users. Its overall business is growing like crazy, achieving almost $2.2 billion in revenue last year, a year-over-year gain of 163%.
Its torrid growth continued into Q1. Digital entertainment revenue was up 112% and its e-commerce segment (including payments) was up 84%. Its digital entertainment profits don't totally offset the losses in e-commerce, so its overall business was $268 million in the red -- equivalent to 37% of the $715 million top line. This level of losses may seem irresponsible, but its incredible growth is worth the investment, especially with its $2.6 billion in cash and cash equivalents, which will enable it to continue to run a growth-fueling loss for years.
With the region's e-commerce market a tiny 3.7% of the gross domestic product in 2019, more than 70% of consumers unbanked or underbanked, and an avid gamer population, this triple threat is a solid buy as its prospects over the next 10 years look bright.
The bottom line for investors
Let's cut to the chase: These stocks aren't cheap. The price-to-sales ratios for the two regional players are around 24 and the e-commerce juggernaut comes in at a 4.9, more than double the S&P 500's average of 2.4. These lofty valuations might scare away conservative investors, but this set of quality operators is worth the price.
Buying all three of these growth stocks today will enable you to benefit from the long-term trends of e-commerce (plus cloud computing, payments, and online gaming) and should provide market-beating returns over the next decade.