The Federal Reserve just raised interest rates by 75 basis points for the third consecutive time and promised to continue raising them for the foreseeable future. The Fed said it "anticipates that ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate."
It also intends to continue selling the trillions of dollars in U.S. Treasuries it has accumulated over the last 15 years during its period of "quantitative easing," so the stock market is anticipating the Fed will knock the economy into an official recession. It's no coincidence the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost almost 1,300 points in the past week and is down 13% in the past month.
Investors rightly get nervous from the uncertainty these market conditions create, yet those who are savvy enough understand just what a stock market sell-off represents. Over the past 100 years, every significant decline in the major indexes has been followed by a bull market rally, meaning this is part of the buying opportunity every patient investor seeks.
MercadoLibre (MELI -0.13%), in particular, is offering investors a unique chance at buying what is proving to be an unstoppable stock in the face of massive selling pressure for the broader markets.
Best of all worlds
While it's the largest e-commerce platform in Latin America -- especially Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico -- MercadoLibre offers much more. That includes its fastest-growing business: Mercado Pago. This fintech operation surpassed $1 billion in revenue for the first time ever last quarter, which is more than double the year-ago period.
As my colleague Matt Frankel says, not only is MercadoLibre the so-called "Amazon of Latin America," but it also just might be the equivalent of PayPal, Block, Shopify, and eBay all rolled into one.
MercadoLibre has always been the biggest online retailer in Latin America, though Amazon, Lojas Americanas, Casas Bahia, and Sea Limited's Shopee all provide robust competition. Still, MercadoLibre's scale in the region, coupled with its sprawling logistics network, Mercado Envios -- which allows it to extend its reach into communities currently inaccessible to its rivals -- gives it a distinct competitive advantage.
Swimming against the tide
MercadoLibre, of course, is not immune from the macroeconomic forces that weigh on e-commerce stocks in the U.S. and elsewhere. Inflation, for example, is exerting cost pressures on transportation expenses, though it was able to offset some of them by launching a crowd-sourced Meli Extra service for last-mile delivery.
Latin American countries -- especially Brazil, its largest market -- have gone through severe recessions over the past few years. Bank of America forecasts Mexico will see only flat to 1% economic growth next year, and will be pushed to the precipice of a recession as interest rates rise.
The e-commerce and fintech platform, though, has persevered, even thrived, despite its stock falling 56% this year. Quarterly revenue surged 52% to $2.6 billion as gross merchandise volume hit an all-time high of over $8.5 billion, while total payment volume on the fintech side grew 72% to over $30 billion.
Greater growth to come
MercadoLibre has proven to be an indefatigable force in meeting the needs of consumers in Latin America through recession, pandemic, and beyond. It's not without hurdles and competition, including some large, well-financed rivals, but it's a business that has a long runway for growth.
Of course, the stock market sell-off could cause MercadoLibre's stock to fall more, but Wall Street remains bullish. Analysts have placed a one-year price target of $1,388 per share on its stock with a Street-high target by one firm of $2,100 per share, which implies upside potential of 154% from its current price.
MercadoLibre might have a tough time hitting those lofty levels in just a year, but it remains an unstoppable stock that patient investors can buy with confidence that it will markedly appreciate in value over time.