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1 Reason Investors Are Excited About Sea Limited's Future

By Brian Withers and Brian Stoffel – Updated Jun 25, 2021 at 1:55PM

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It's playing to this ingrained human characteristic.

Sea Limited (SE 4.51%) started as an online gaming company called Garena in 2009. A little more than a decade later, it has grown into a massive gaming, e-commerce, and digital payments platform. A key part of its success is getting customers hooked, first on its popular games and now on its e-commerce website, Shopee. On a Fool Live episode recorded on May 26, Fool contributor Brian Stoffel runs down the latest quarter and shows the metrics that highlight how consumers are making the gaming and shopping platform a regular habit.

Brian Stoffel: Next, we're going to talk about Sea Limited. Now for those that aren't familiar, Sea Limited actually stands for Southeast Asia, Sea. Sea Limited is a company that's hard to peg as just one thing. This is a gaming company. They've got one of the best games out there, Free Fire, one of the most popular games out there in Free Fire. That's what brings in most of the money right now. Let's be clear about where that stands. But it's not the part that I'm the most interested in, part that I'm most interested in is how they can use that money to build out Shopee, which is the e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia through seven, basically maritime nations and SeaMoney which is a payment option that is popular in a lot of places, too, in that same region.

Let's go over how the company did and as I'm doing this, if you have any questions, Sea Limited's one of those companies that I know comes up a bunch when I'm talking about it on Twitter. Feel free to put those questions on Slido, we'll have a chance to get to those a little bit later. But here's just real quick, from 30,000 feet, how the company did. Revenue up 146%, that's pretty good. Their gross profit up even more, which means they've got leverage, again, pretty good, but let's go and break down. I'm going to even skip this because I don't care that much. Digital entertainment, this is Garena and that is where Free Fire is, so their bookings you see were up 117%. In other words, they more than doubled and their adjusted EBITDA is up even more, which means they have leverage.

But here's what I really care about. Quarterly active users, this is a freemium game. You can start playing it for free. The number of people playing it was up 61%. The number of people paying, so they decide to upgrade, it's up to 80 million, which more than doubled. Here's the big thing. You've got your total users already growing by about 62%. The percentage of all those that became paying users jumped from about 8% last year to over 12% this year. That's enormous. That's a 50% increase based on if it stayed the same. This is a popular game. It's going to be really important that this continues to fund the operations.

Let's look at the two that I'm excited about for the future, which is Shopee. Now, we see that they more than tripled their revenue, which is fine, but I want to see how that worked out. Orders were up 150%, that's great. Gross merchandise volume. The value of all the stuff was up a 100%. What this tells me since this is 100 and the other was a 150, people are buying less valuable things, which I think is actually good because that means it's habit-forming. Then we see that it's the most popular in its region. Finally, we've got SeaMoney, 3.4 billion in total payments for the quarter. It was 1 billion last year. Total paying users was up 145%. This is still a very small part of the picture, but it's one that is very interesting to me.

Brian Stoffel owns shares of Sea Limited. Brian Withers owns shares of Sea Limited. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Sea Limited and Twitter. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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