Close your eyes and picture a leaner, faster eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) that's fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

You're looking at MercadoLibre (Nasdaq: MELI), aren't you?

MercadoLibre continues to follow in eBay's footsteps, down to having its financial payment platform carry it in its latest quarter.

Just as eBay's recent financial performance would be laughable without PayPal, MercadoLibre's third quarter would be ho-hum if not for its fast-growing MercadoPago platform.

Revenue climbed a mere 11% to $56 million, far short of the 23% top-line spurt to $62.3 million that investors were expecting. If it's any consolation -- and it's not, really -- MercadoLibre's revenue did grow at a 23% clip in local currency terms.

The good news is that things get better on the way down to the bottom line. Net income soared 91% to $0.43 a share, well ahead of the $0.31 a share that the pros were targeting. Sure, MercadoLibre's earnings were padded by a chunky one-time tax benefit, but earnings and margins still would have grown nicely without that.

The stock headed lower after last night's report, as the weak 11% top-line gain clearly disappointed investors. I mean, that's a sneeze away from the 10% that eBay rang up during the same three months. The big difference here is that eBay is only fetching 16 times next year's projected earnings. MercadoLibre is carrying a heavier multiple of 42.

MercadoLibre did serve as the marketplace for 10.4 million items successfully sold during the quarter, 30% more than last year. Unfortunately, the gross merchandise volume rose by only 12%, bogged down largely by currency translations. The number of transactions going through MercadoPago, on the other hand, soared by 120%.

Toiling away in volatile Latin American currencies will always lead to wild swings in dollar-based financial results. MercadoLibre's scintillating returns since the market bottomed out give it little room for error, at this point.

MercadoLibre's saving grace is that it's the only legitimate Latin American dot-com stock trading on a stateside exchange. QuePasa (OTC BB: QPSA.OB) isn't profitable. AOL's (NYSE: AOL) Latin American spinoff filed for bankruptcy liquidation five years ago. Brazil's Net Servicos de Comunicacao (Nasdaq: NETC), Tele Norte (NYSE: TNE), and Telecomunicacoes de Sao Paulo (NYSE: TSP) offer exposure to online connectivity, but they're not pure plays.

MercadoLibre owns the spotlight. As long as the currency fluctuations even out over time, it just has to make sure that this is as close as it gets to looking like eBay.

Are you buying any Latin American stocks these days? Share your buy or sell list in the comments box below.

MercadoLibre and Net Servicos de Comunicacao are Motley Fool Rule Breakers selections. eBay is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on eBay. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.  

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz relishes following small dot-coms, and he's recommended more than a few to Rule Breakers newsletter subscribers. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.