Sea Q3 loss widens to $610.8m on higher expenses as revenue surges 122%

The net loss widened 32 per cent from US$340.8 million a year ago. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Singapore-based Sea, which owns e-commerce platform Shopee and game developer Garena, reported on Tuesday (Nov 16) a third-quarter net loss of US$450.1 million (S$610.8 million), after excluding share-based compensation.

The net loss widened 32 per cent from US$340.8 million a year ago.

Loss per share was US$0.84, compared with US$0.69 a year ago, missing an estimate of US$0.762 based on a Bloomberg poll of five analysts.

Sea, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, saw operating expenses rise 105.8 per cent to US$1.5 billion during the quarter, with sales and marketing comprising two-thirds of costs.

Revenue, however, surged 121.8 per cent to US$2.7 billion for the three months ended Sept 30. Gross profit increased 147.5 per cent to US$1 billion.

Under the e-commerce segment, revenue increased 134.4 per cent from the year before to reach US$1.5 billion.

Sea again raised its guidance for e-commerce for the full year of 2021. It expects revenue for e-commerce to be between US$5 billion and US$5.2 billion, up from US$4.7 billion to US$4.9 billion. This represents a 135.3 per cent growth from last year at the midpoint of the revised guidance.

Gross orders rose 123.2 per cent to 1.7 billion while gross merchandise value increased 80.6 per cent to US$16.8 billion.

But adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) loss for the segment widened to US$683.8 million from US$301.6 million in the third quarter of last year. Sea said this translated to an Ebitda loss per order of US$0.41, in line with the year before. Ebitda was adjusted for share-based compensation, and depreciation and amortisation expenses.

Ms Kristine Lau, an analyst at research house Third Bridge, said Shopee's increased commission rate across Asean and Taiwan signals increasing pricing power due to market share gains.

"Shopee's swift merchandising strategy and aggressive campaigns have reinforced its leading positioning. Its expansion into other seller services such as advertising and Shopee Express also contribute towards steady growth in both first-party and third-party seller take rate expansion," she said.

Ms Lau added that the regional e-commerce industry remains highly competitive, with Tokopedia and Lazada in aggressive expansion mode. "However, our experts point out that Shopee's strong user traffic and particular edge in advertising offerings also help onboard and retain branded retailers, leading to a network effect of wider stock keeping unit selection and order volume growth."

Under Sea's digital entertainment segment, which is the group's gaming arm, revenue rose 93.2 per cent to US$1.1 billion. Bookings, which represent generally accepted accounting principles revenue plus change in deferred revenue, totalled US$1.2 billion, up 29.2 per cent.

Adjusted Ebitda was up 22.3 per cent to US$715.1 million. Ebitda was adjusted for share-based compensation, depreciation and amortisation expenses, and the net effect of changes in deferred revenue and its related cost for the segment.

Adjusted Ebitda, however, represented 58.6 per cent of bookings, lower than the 61.9 per cent recorded in the third quarter of last year.

Quarterly active users rose 27.4 per cent to reach 729 million; quarterly paying users grew 42.7 per cent to 93.2 million. Sea said average bookings per user was US$1.70, in line with that for the third quarter of last year.

The group added that it continues to see strong growth in the adoption of SeaMoney's offerings. The total payment volume for its mobile wallet was US$4.6 billion in the third quarter, an increase of 111 per cent.

Quarterly paying users for the mobile wallet services increased to 39.3 million, from 32.7 million in the second quarter of this year.

The group had US$12.5 billion of cash on its balance sheet as at end-September, up from US$7 billion as at end-December last year. Sea raised US$6.3 billion in the largest equity offering of the year in September this year.

On the back of its earnings report on Tuesday, the group announced the appointment of Mr Chris Feng as group president effective Jan 1. Mr Feng, who drove Shopee's meteoric rise as an e-commerce player in South-east Asia, will continue in his roles as chief executive of Shopee and SeaMoney.

Shares of Sea closed 3.8 per cent lower at US$329.91 on Tuesday, after its results were announced.

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