Coupang (CPNG 2.74%) doesn't have a very impressive stock chart these days, but things may be looking up for the South Korean online retailer. For the second time since reporting poorly received quarterly results two weeks ago, an analyst is stepping up to upgrade shares of Coupang.
Diawa analyst Thomas Kwon lifted his rating on the shares from to buy to outperform on Thursday. Two weeks ago, it was Peter Milliken upgrading the stock from hold to buy with a price target of $44, implying 43% of upside from where shares are now.
It's a timely show of confidence. The stock hit another new low earlier this week. It's an all-time low, but that's not necessarily saying much when we're talking about a stock that has only been trading since March. However, with two analysts upgrading it at a time when it has fallen below its IPO price, it's an encouraging sign that Coupang stock may have finally bottomed out this week.
Let's go shopping
It's not fair to describe Coupang as just an e-tailer in South Korea. The first thing that pops up in investor minds when they think of an online retailer is a company shipping orders from a central location at cost-effective price points to anywhere on the planet. Coupang is more nuanced than that, with a bigger moat than most digital merchants as a result of its strong physical footprint.
Coupang has 100 different distribution centers all across South Korea. They are located strategically, covering 70% of the country's population within seven miles of one of its fulfillment centers. A fleet of drivers work overnight to have merchandise and grocery orders placed by midnight and available at the local center delivered to customers' front steps before the sun rises.
With its hyperlocal logistics firmly established, Coupang is succeeding in markets like restaurant delivery that have proven elusive to others in the past. More than a third of South Korea -- and roughly half of the folks living within seven miles of a distribution center -- are active customers.
Revenue soared 71% to $4.5 billion in Coupang's quarterly report earlier this month. Its active-customer base expanded by 26% over the past year to hit 17 million, and the average account is spending 36% more than it was 12 months ago.
It may seem hard to bet against that kind of growth and engagement, but investors still sold off the stock two weeks ago after that seemingly stellar financial update. The problem with the report is that top-line growth roughly met Wall Street expectations, and its quarterly loss was twice as bad as analysts were modeling.
Coupang isn't going to be a bottom-line growth story anytime soon. Yes, it's still losing money with its fast-growing grocery and food delivery businesses. Even if they do come around, it's not as if these are high-margin profit centers. However, growth investors can -- and should -- overlook near-term challenges to earnings when you're a a cash-rich player like Coupang.
Another thing keeping Coupang in check is that it already dominates its home market. Coupang isn't a global powerhouse or even a household name outside of South Korea, but in its recent earnings call it did mention that international expansion is on the horizon.
Coupang isn't like other internet retail stocks. It's pretty remarkable that you can buy the stock today for less than its springtime IPO price tag of $35. The two analysts trying to take advantage of the historically low share price for a misunderstood yet proven growth stock have it right this time. Coupang stock may be finally bottoming out and getting ready to fly.