Mercado Libre (MELI) stock forecast: Will it rebound in 2022? – Capital.com

The stock of MercadoLibre (MELI) – an Argentinian technology company and the largest e-commerce firm in Latin America – has demonstrated extreme volatility over the past year, owing to various head and tailwinds that impacted the stock during the period. 

The US Federal Reserve’s (the Fed’s) monetary policy has been a major driver for the stock’s price performance, as well as the company’s own string of operations, acquisition strategy, and partnerships with other brands to fight against counterfeiting and piracy in the Latin American region.

The company’s stock price took a gradual upward trend from April 2020, roughly two months after the Covid-19 pandemic tightened its grip around the world. This rise might be also attributed to a surge of 45.2% in the firm’s unique active users, which reached 51.5 million in Q2 2020

The firm, which had a market capitalisation of $58.83bn as of 13 January, has also reported a solid increase in its numbers of unique active users throughout the quarters since then. This rise in the company’s user base could be due to the strong shift towards e-commerce consumption during the pandemic, as most people were stuck in their homes and therefore relied heavily on internet-based services.

What’s next for this e-commerce stock in 2022? Let’s take a look at a detailed MELI stock analysis to help you form a plausible MercadoLibre stock forecast.

MELI stock analysis: MercadoLibre performance in 2021

Despite hitting an all-time high of $2,012.8 in January 2021, it wasn’t an easy year for the MELI stock, which experienced significant price swings. It eventually plunged 33.10% according to its one-year price chart. 

In contrast, the stock increased by 16.19% on the Nasdaq Composite during the same period, as of 13 January 2022. 

Mercado Libre vs Nasdaq composite, one-year performance 

A major reason behind this plunge in the company’s stock price could be the Federal Reserve’s (the Fed’s) plans to taper its bond-purchase programme. 

The stock has witnessed a gradual decline in its price since September 2021, after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) indicated in its 22 September 2021 statement that “a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted”.

As of 30 September 2021, the company had $765.14m of short-term debt and $1.97bn of long-term debt. If the yields rise in months ahead, MercadoLibre could raise borrowing costs and boost its financing expenses, which would lead to higher cash outlay to service the firm’s loans.

The MercadoLibre stock closed at $1,210.91 on 12 January. Taking a look at the MercadoLibre historical stock prices, the stock has surged 586.26% over the past five years (as of 13 January).

MercadoLibre (MELI) stock: five-year performance 

MercadoLibre fundamental analysis: What do the company’s 2021 earnings show?

MercadoLibre widened its net loss after tax in the first quarter ended 31 March 2021 to $34.012m from $21.109m a year earlier. The company’s net revenue surged to $1.378bn from $62.091m during the same period. Loss per share, both basic and diluted, also widened to $0.68 from $0.44 in the quarter ended 31 March 2020.

A major reason behind the widened loss could be the company incurring foreign currency losses of $15.1m in Q1 2021. These were due to the additional cost of accessing US dollars via an indirect mechanism in Argentina. The Argentine government’s restrictions on buying US dollars at the official exchange rate led to the additional cost.

In the second quarter ended 30 June 2021, the company reported a net income after tax of $68.195m, surging from $55.947m in the previous year’s quarter, leading the basic and diluted earnings per share (EPS) to improve to $1.37 from $1.11 during the period. Net revenue surged to $1.702bn in Q2 2021 from $878.369m a year earlier.

The surge in Q2 2021 net revenue was a result of the firm’s gross merchandise volume (GMV) growing to $7bn, marking a rise of 39.2% in a US dollar-basis and 46.1% on a forex- (FX) neutral basis. The mobile gross merchandise volume surged 218.2% on an on-year FX- neutral basis, hitting 73.4% of GMV in the said quarter.

MercadoLibre reported a net income after tax of $95.225m in the third quarter ended 30 September 2021, surging from $15.035m in the previous year’s quarter, leading the basic and diluted EPS to improve to $1.92 from $0.28 during the period. 

Net revenue surged to $1.857bn in Q3 2021 from $1.115bn a year earlier. The higher revenue was a result of the firm’s GMV rising to $7.3bn, indicating an increase of 23.9% in US dollar and 29.7% on an FX-neutral basis. The mobile gross-merchandise volume reached 74.1% of GMV in Q3 2021.

Pedro Arnt, MercadoLlibre’s Chief Financial Officer, said during the last earnings call: “We had a record achievement in quarterly revenues, surpassing $1.8bn on a consolidated basis, growing 66.5% in US dollars and 72.9% on an FX-neutral basis. In Brazil, revenues grew 69% on an FX-neutral basis, while Argentina and Mexico posted even higher FX-neutral growth rates, with 83% and almost 76%, respectively. Revenue growth is driven by consistent growth in our first-party and third-party merchandise as well as payment volumes, and the expansion of our Credit business, and maintaining the consistent monetisation levels seen in the previous quarter.”

MELI stock news and major price drivers

On the positive side, the year 2021 was strong in terms of the company’s expansion. 

First, the company acquired Chilean payment services provider Redelcom in December 2021 and Brazilian logistics company Kangu in August 2021.

The acquisition of Redelcom places MercadoLibre in a strategic position to strengthen its operations in payment systems as the firm looks forward to consolidating its value proposition in Chile and boost the growth of its multiple payment tools and digital financial solutions. The company seeks to broaden the scope of business of firms in Chile via the takeover, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs.

The acquisition of Kangu will allow MercadoLibre to raise its investment across its logistics network to increase the efficiency for sellers, lower delivery times and expand capacity at its logistics arm Mercado Envios. Kangu has over 5,000 collection and delivery points in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, which MercadoLibre plans to take advantage of. 

Second, the company led a round of inaugural debt offering in January 2021 and a round of equity offering in November 2021 to rope in substantial capital.

On 8 January 2021, the company priced its public offering of $400m 2.375% notes due 2026 and $700m 3.125% notes due 2031, which was the firm’s first offering of debt securities. The 2.375% notes due 2026 are guaranteed senior sustainable notes. The company planned to use the net proceeds from the sale of the notes to finance or refinance, partly or entirely, its new or existing eligible projects.

On November 16, 2021, MercadoLibre priced an underwritten public offering of one million shares of common stock at a public offering price of $1,550 per share, for aggregate proceeds before underwriting discount and expenses of $1.55bn. The company did not disclose where it planned to use the proceeds from the offering.

On the negative side, the company’s considerable holdings of short- and long-term debt may pose an issue for the stock. The firm’s borrowing costs may shoot up if the US central bank lowers its rate of asset purchases further. 

The US central bank said in its recent December 2021 FOMC meeting that “it would be appropriate to double the pace of the ongoing reduction in net asset purchases. Such a change would result in reducing the monthly pace of net purchases of Treasury securities by $20bn and of agency MBS [mortgage-backed securities] by $10bn starting in January.”

MercadoLibre (MELI) stock forecast: What does analyst sentiment convey?

Is MELI stock a ‘buy’, a ‘sell’ or a ‘hold’? Analysts at MarketBeat have shared different price targets for the MercadoLibre stock as of 13 January. Eleven out of 13 analysts covering the stock rated it as a ‘buy’, and two gave it a ‘hold’ rating. These analysts include UBS Group, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Barclays, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and the Bank of America.

The analysts’ consensus 12-month MELI stock price target was $1,943.08. It had an upside potential of 60%, based on the closing price of $1,210.91 on 12 January. The stock projection varied from the low price target of $1,250 to the high of $2,250.

Out of the most recent ratings, Stifel Nicolaus lowered its price target for MELI from $2,200 to $1,600 and the Jefferies Financial Group downgraded it from ‘buy’ to ‘hold’. Credit Suisse’s Stephen Ju and Barclays’ Trevor Young shared a positive outlook, boosting the stock’s target from $2,100 to $2,200.

Mercado Libre (MELI) stock analyst ratings and price targets

Commenting on MercadoLibre’s future prospects, Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell, said to Capital.com:

“Many investors are falling out of love with growth stocks right now because US rate rises are most definitely round the corner. But even with the changing economic environment, MercadoLibre has a lot to recommend it as part of a long-term strategy. While consumers on its home turf in Latin America have been hit hard by Covid and rising inflation, it still managed to grow sales at an impressive rate over the last year. 

“While 2022 is expected to deliver even more volatility, the e-commerce business is set to keep growing, and bargain hunters with an eye on the future might well be tempted with the stock’s current price. Ultimately, investors need to think about whether a company will be more or less relevant in a few years’ time – and with the world increasingly relying on the digital space for pretty much everything, there’s little doubt this is a business with opportunities.”

According to the algorithm-based MercadoLibre share price forecast from Wallet Investor, as of 12 January 2022, MELI could reach an average price of  $1,460.25 by the end of December 2022.

Over the longer term, Wallet Investor’s MercadoLibre stock prediction suggested the stock could hit $1,934.12 by the end of December 2023, $2,417.07 by the end of 2024, and $2,892.84 by the end of 2025. Although the service did not provide price targets for 2030, its five-year MELI stock forecast suggests the price could hit $3,394.260 in January 2027.

When looking for MercadoLibre stock predictions, it’s important to bear in mind that analysts’ forecasts can be wrong. Projections are based on making fundamental and technical studies of the MELI stock’s performance. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

It is important to do your own research, and remember that your decision to trade depends on your attitude to risk, your expertise in the market, the spread of your investment portfolio and how comfortable you feel about losing money. You should never invest money that you cannot afford to lose.

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