The pandemic lit a fire under many e-commerce stocks last year as more people shopped online. Companies like Amazon, Shopify, and Etsy all profited from that shift, and their stocks could rise even higher this year as that secular shift continues.
Those stocks are still solid long-term investments, but investors should also add a few frequently overlooked overseas e-commerce companies to their portfolios. Here are three top names to consider: MercadoLibre (MELI -3.68%), Baozun (BZUN 0.97%), and Pinduoduo (PDD -0.43%).
MercadoLibre is the largest e-commerce company in Latin America. It operates marketplaces in 18 countries, and its three top markets are Brazil (65% of its revenue last quarter), Argentina (19%), and Mexico (12%).
Its total number of registered users grew from 144.6 million at the end of 2015 to 320.6 million by the end of 2019. It added another 46.8 million registered users in the first nine months of 2020.
MercadoLibre is riding high on three tailwinds: the shift from physical to online stores across Latin America, rising internet penetration rates, and its first-mover's advantage in the market -- which has even held Amazon at bay. Those tailwinds are offsetting recessions and brutal currency headwinds across the region.
MercadoLibre's revenue rose 60% last year, with robust growth across all its top markets, and grew another 63% year over year in the first nine months of 2020 as more people shopped online throughout the pandemic.
Analysts expect MercadoLibre's revenue to rise 67% for the full year, with a net profit, compared to a steep net loss in fiscal 2019. Next year, they expect its revenue to rise 37% and its earnings to more than double.
MercadoLibre's stock might initially seem pricey at over 200 times forward earnings, but it trades at just 16 times next year's sales -- which actually makes it cheaper than many other high-growth tech stocks.
Baozun is an e-commerce services company that helps large companies set up shop in China. It provides an end-to-end platform that handles all of a company's operations, logistics, IT, and marketing needs.
Big overseas brands like Nike and PepsiCo use Baozun to establish their e-commerce presence in China without hiring local teams or building their own infrastructure. Baozun generates most of its revenue from these big overseas customers.
Baozun's capital-intensive business has gradually replaced its "distribution-based" model, which fulfills orders for clients, with an asset-light "non-distribution" model that lets clients ship orders directly to customers. This change has stabilized the company's earnings growth in recent years.
Baozun's revenue rose 35% last year and grew another 22% year over year in the first nine months of 2020. Its growth was slightly affected by the trade war, which caused some overseas companies to review their dependence on China, and China's faster recovery from the pandemic, which limited its overall boost to online sales.
Nonetheless, analysts still expect Baozun's revenue and earnings to rise 33% and 49%, respectively, for the full year. Next year, they expect its revenue and earnings to grow 29% and 33%, respectively -- which are incredibly high-growth rates for a stock that trades at 22 times forward earnings and 1.5 times next year's sales.
Pinduoduo is the third-largest e-commerce company in China after Alibaba (BABA -1.64%) and JD.com (JD -2.12%). It served 731 million active buyers over the past twelve months.
Pinduoduo was only founded five years ago, but it rapidly expanded by encouraging shoppers to team up on bulk purchases for steep discounts. That approach attracted many shoppers in China's lower-tier cities and also made it a leading platform for shipping fresh fruits and vegetables.
Alibaba and JD both launched their own discount marketplaces to counter Pinduoduo's growth, but the e-commerce underdog continued to grow. Its revenue soared 130% last year then rose another 70% year over year in the first nine months of 2020.
Analysts expect Pinduoduo's revenue to rise 84% this year with a narrower loss, followed by 55% revenue growth and a potential profit next year.
Looking ahead, Alibaba's antitrust troubles could generate tailwinds for Pinduoduo. The company previously accused Alibaba of locking in merchants with exclusive deals, and China's antitrust regulators could loosen Alibaba's grip and bring more sellers back to Pinduoduo.
Pinduoduo's stock has more than quadrupled over the past 12 months, but it still trades at 18 times next year's sales, which makes it surprisingly cheap relative to other tech companies with much slower growth rates.