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Bull of the Day: MercadoLibre (MELI)

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MercadoLibre, Inc. (MELI - Free Report) is gaining momentum as it takes on Amazon in the online shopping wars in Latin America. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) is expected to see 46% sales growth in 2017.

MercadoLibre is the largest online commerce and payments site in Latin America. It is the eBay/Amazon of the region with websites serving 18 countries including Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela and Peru.

It operates MercadoLibre sites in each country as well as its online payment service MercadoPago.

Big Beat as Sales Soar

On May 4, MercadoLibre reported its first quarter results and crushed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 32 cents. Earnings were $1.10 versus the consensus of $0.78.

Revenue soared 73.8% in US dollars and 78.9% on an FX neutral basis on strong growth in Brazil and Mexico, which grew 52.7% and 70.7%, respectively.

Sold items were up 38.6% while payment transactions through MercadoPago spiked 60.1% to 44.1 million.

In Mexico, items shipped rose 220% year-over-year to $2.6 million but gross margins fell 61.1% from 64.8% a year ago due to free Mexican shipping. Amazon recently entered the market in Mexico so the competition, especially with free shipping, is heating up.

Estimates Rise for 2017 and 2018

After the big blow out quarter, the analysts raced to raise full year 2017 and 2018 estimates.

4 estimates were raised over the last 60 days for this year which has pushed up the 2017 Zacks Consensus to $4.67 from $4.31. That's earnings growth of 34% as the company made just $3.48 in 2016.

They are also bullish on 2018 as the Zacks Consensus has jumped to $6.61 from $5.87 during the last 2 months. That's earnings growth of 41%.

Shares At Multi-Year Highs

With those kinds of numbers, is it any surprise that the shares spiked to new highs? Here's what the 5-year chart looks like.

The stock isn't cheap. It has a forward P/E of 61 so clearly you are buying it as a growth stock. However, it actually does pay a dividend, which is currently yielding 0.2%.

The company has solid cash flow as well and had $300 million cash on hand as of March 31, 2017.

Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) and Alibaba (BABA - Free Report) aren't the only games in town in online shopping. There are 650 million possible shoppers in Latin America and MercadoLibre, which was founded in 1999, was first in.

For those investors interested in owning the global leaders in e-commerce, MercadoLibre should be on your short list.

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