Shares of Sea Limited (SE 0.99%) soared Wednesday by as much as 10% as stay-at-home tech stocks continue to experience heightened volatility following news earlier this week that pharmaceutical companies are making progress on their COVID-19 vaccine candidates. As of 1:25 p.m. EST, the stock was up 7%.
E-commerce companies have enjoyed strong demand throughout the pandemic as consumers shifted to purchasing online from the safety of their homes. The prospect of an effective vaccine, while clearly good news in the broader battle against COVID-19, may dampen that engagement once people return to shopping at brick-and-mortar retail stores. The stock has been under heavy selling pressure over the past two days, but investors may be overreacting. Sea also has a mobile gaming business that has benefited from higher demand and engagement as people also need home entertainment during the pandemic.
The rally comes despite a downgrade from BofA Securities. Analyst Paul Dewberry cut his rating on Sea shares from buy to neutral while assigning a price target of $164.
Separately, a new report from Google, Temasek Holdings, and Bain & Company showed that demand in Southeast Asia for online services, including e-commerce and digital payments, has skyrocketed. The total number of internet users in the region, which is where Sea operates, has now reached 400 million. That's an encouraging data point for Sea's long-term prospects.
Overall gross merchandise volumes (GMV) across Southeast Asian e-commerce platforms are expected to jump 63% in 2020 to reach $100 billion. Adoption of digital financial services, an area where Sea is expanding, is also on the rise. The company is set to report third-quarter results on Nov. 17.