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Are You Ready to Invest in the Jeff Bezos of South Korea?

By Jamal Carnette, CFA - Mar 9, 2021 at 4:22PM

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Coupang's IPO appears shockingly reasonable considering the opportunity.

It's often said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. It's understandable if Amazon.com (AMZN 0.19%) founder and outgoing CEO Jeff Bezos might disagree with that adage. That's because Amazon's multi-decade record of e-commerce success has created a host of geographical copycats aiming to beat him on their home turf.

It's been a successful run for e-commerce stocks, starting when Jack Ma's Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA 0.43%) went public in 2014, the biggest IPO ever at the time. Other recent successful e-commerce debuts are Latin America's MercadoLibre (MELI 6.98%), Southeast Asia's Sea Limited (SE 3.62%), and Africa's Jumia Technologies (JMIA 3.60%).

It's understandable investors are looking for the next geographical e-commerce company to list on the exchange. The next in line is South Korea's Coupang and founder Bom Kim has much in common with the world's richest man. Here's what you need to know about Coupang stock before the IPO occurs.

Mini shopping cart filled with carboard boxes on laptop.

Image source: Getty Images

Winning share in its home market

Bom Kim shares Bezos' relentless focus on the consumer, aiming to create a world where customers wonder "How did I ever live without Coupang?" The company invested significantly in its logistical and delivery network and now boasts a delivery rate of one day or less on 99.3% of its orders through its Rocket Delivery service.

The company claims nearly 70% of Koreans live within 10 minutes of a Coupang logistical center, a figure aided by South Korea's population density. As a result of these investments, Coupang has knocked Amazon off to become the biggest e-commerce company in  the country which is impressive especially considering Coupang is only 10 years old.

South Korea is will situated for long-term e-commerce growth, boasting several factors that make it conducive to large-scale adoption. In addition to the population density mentioned above, at 96% the country boasts higher internet penetration rates than the United States (90%) and is the twelfth-largest country by GDP.

Data research firm IDC estimates the South Korea market will grow nearly 10% per year for the next three years and will be the third-largest e-commerce market by the end of 2021.

Coupang's valuation appears reasonable

While it's a stretch to call Coupang a cheap stock under traditional valuation metrics, the company appears reasonably valued when compared to others in its industry, particularly when compared to e-commerce stocks in developing geographies. The company is still posting negative cash flow and earnings, but on a top-line basis the comparisons are favorable.

Coupang made approximately $12 billion in revenue per the S-1 IPO registration filing and is looking to go public at a $58 billion valuation. At 4.8 times trailing revenue, the company is cheaper than all other e-commerce stocks save for Amazon despite trading at only a fraction of its market cap.

Company

Sales/TTM

Market Cap

P/S Ratio

Coupang

$12 billion

$58 billion

4.8

MercadoLibre

$4 billion

$73 billion

18.3

Sea Limited

$4.4 billion

$117 billion

26.6

Alibaba

$99 billion

$648 billion

6.5

Amazon

$386 billion

$1.5 trillion

3.9

Jumia

$170 million

$3.7 billion

21.8

Source: Company 10Ks/10Qs.

Furthermore, Coupang is posting growth rates of 90% versus Amazon's 38%. Look for its top line to continue to grow as e-commerce adoption increases and Coupang continues to steal share. If you're looking for a cheap e-commerce stock, put Coupang's IPO on your watchlist.

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Stocks Mentioned

Amazon.com, Inc. Stock Quote
Amazon.com, Inc.
AMZN
$2,146.38 (0.19%) $4.13
Mercadolibre, Inc. Stock Quote
Mercadolibre, Inc.
MELI
$801.57 (6.98%) $52.27
Alibaba Group Holding Limited Stock Quote
Alibaba Group Holding Limited
BABA
$87.69 (0.43%) $0.38
Jumia Technologies Stock Quote
Jumia Technologies
JMIA
$6.90 (3.60%) $0.24
Sea Limited Stock Quote
Sea Limited
SE
$76.89 (3.62%) $2.69

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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